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What is Exposition Writing

12.3 Structure of an Analytical/Expository Essay

The structure of an expository piece consists of first an introduction that contains the most crucial element—the thesis—the main point you wish to convey. After the introduction is the body, in which you clarify the different aspects of the thesis in great detail. The final piece, the conclusion, restates and rephrases (using different words) the thesis and ties up any “loose ends”.

Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any successful expository essay. A thesis statement controls the subject matter of the essay and states something significant to the reader. It is the one statement that summarizes the main point of the essay and states why the essay is important and worth reading. An essay that lacks a strong thesis will have broad scope and lack focus.

The following are qualities of a well-crafted thesis statement:

  1. A thesis statement should identify a specific purpose for the essay.
  2. A thesis statement should assert something about the essay, and it should be something with which others can reasonably disagree.
  3. A thesis statement should be clear and easily identifiable by a reader.
  4. A thesis statement generally comes toward the end of the introduction and is usually the final sentence.
  5. A well-focused thesis statement, key to organizing an essay, contains two elements: a clear subject and a clear perspective on the topic.
  6. Use a precise topic rather than a generalized topic when writing a thesis. Avoid statements like “I will use my essay to consider. . .” and “This paper will discuss….”
    • o Vague – Ecological disasters are a major concern today.
    • o Precise – Pollution of underground water supplies threatens cities on the American West Coast.

A thesis should have the following characteristics:

  • *It should be simple or complex, BUT never compound.
  • *It should be stated positively.
  • *It should be restricted, precise, and unified.
  • *It should not contain figurative language.


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Expression and Inquiry by Christopher Manning; Sally Pierce; and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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