Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Expository Essay Outline - Format Guide with Samples

10 min read

Published on: May 6, 2020

Last updated on: Feb 24, 2024

expository essay outline

Writing an expository essay can be a daunting task for students, especially if they are not familiar with the process.

Many students struggle to organise their thoughts and ideas into a coherent structure. This can lead to a poorly written essay that fails to convey the intended message.

That's why we have created this comprehensive guide to crafting the perfect expository essay outline!

By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can simplify the writing process and produce a clear and effective expository essay.

Whether you're a student, or simply looking to improve your writing skills, read on to learn how to craft the perfect expository essay outline.

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What is an Expository Essay Outline?

An outline helps an essay writer keep track of whatever he/she is writing in the essay. While talking about the essay outline, you should know that the format is the same for all types of expository essays. 

Keep in mind that an outline will help you logically organize your expository essay’s main ideas in one place. 

Here is a generic structure for an expository essay outline.

I. Introduction

A. Hook or attention-grabbing statement

B. Background information/context

C. Thesis statement

II. Body Paragraph 1

A. Topic sentence introducing the main idea of the paragraph

B. Supporting evidence or examples

C. Explanation or analysis of the evidence

D. Transition to the next paragraph

III. Body Paragraph 2

A. Topic sentence introducing the second main idea of the essay

B. Supporting evidence or examples

C. Explanation or analysis of the evidence

D. Transition to the next paragraph

IV. Body Paragraph 3

A. Topic sentence introducing the third main idea of the essay

B. Supporting evidence or examples

C. Explanation or analysis of the evidence

D. Transition to the next paragraph

V. Conclusion

A. Restatement of the thesis statement

B. Summary of the main points discussed in the essay

C. Final thoughts or concluding remarks

Remember that this is a generic outline structure and can be adjusted to fit the specific requirements of your expository essay. 

Now, let’s take a look at the essay structure of a 5 paragraph expository essay in detail.

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5 Paragraph Expository Essay Outline

This is a typical format that is commonly used for creating an outline. It is called the 5-paragraph essay outline, as it has five paragraphs. The details about the paragraphs used in this format are as follows:

Paragraph I: The Introduction

It is the first paragraph of the outline. It explains the essay’s topic, background information, and the purpose of the essay to the reader. 

An essay introduction paragraph must include the following elements.

  • A hook statement to attract the reader’s attention. 
  • Brief background information related to the essay topic. 
  • A strong thesis statement to support the entire essay. 

Paragraph II: Body Paragraph I

This is the first paragraph that makes the body of the essay. It has the following elements. 

  • A starting sentence is known as the topic sentence. 
  • Supporting evidence regarding the key element that is being discussed.
  • Analysis of the evidence and supporting information.
  • Transitional words or sentences.

Paragraph III: Body Paragraph II

This is the second paragraph that discusses the elements given below.

  • A topic sentence that introduces the second main idea of the essay.
  • Supporting evidence for the key element. 
  • Analysis of the evidence that is used. 
  • Concluding remarks and transition to the next idea.

Paragraph IV: Body Paragraph III

This paragraph is the last body paragraph of the essay. It contains the following elements.

  • Topic sentence: The most important central idea of the essay.
  • Supporting evidence.
  • Analysis of the evidence.
  • It concludes with a transitional sentence. 

Paragraph V: Conclusion

This is the last paragraph of the outline. While you are writing this paragraph, make sure that you do not add any new elements to this part. Make sure that after reading this paragraph, the reader should get a sense of accomplishment and must be able to conclude.

Add the given elements in this section. 

  • Restate the thesis statement.
  • A summary of the essay.
  • Answer the unanswered questions.
  • Call to action.

Go through this expository essay example to understand it in a better way.

How to Write an Expository Essay Outline?

No matter what type of expository essay you write, you will have to create an outline for it. For this, you need to brainstorm the ideas and note down all the key elements related to your essay. Later, you can add these points to create an outline.

Follow the below-given steps to create an amazing outline for your expository essay.

Choose an Interesting Topic

The first thing that a writer must do before start writing an essay is to choose a good topic. It must be eye-catching as it is the first thing that a reader sees. 

Make sure that the topic of your essay must convince the reader to read your entire writing piece. Also, keep in mind that your topic should neither be very simple nor too complex. 

For more tips and guidelines, check out our guide on writing expository essays.

Write an Engaging Introduction

A good introduction gives you a chance to impress your readers and convince them that the entire essay is worth reading. For this reason, you should make sure that the introductory paragraph is very interesting. It should inform the reader what the main idea of your essay is. 

Follow the below instructions to write the introduction.

  • Use a catchy and relevant hook statement to start the essay’s introduction. It must be directed towards the topic of your essay. Search online to look at some hook statement examples and choose what you think is relatable to your paper
  • After writing an engaging hook, provide the reader with brief background information about the topic. Also, let the reader know about the reason that leads you to write this essay. 
  • Create a well-defined and strong thesis statement. It is a sentence or a group of sentences that serves as the essence of the entire essay.

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Write the Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs can provide all the necessary information and evidence that supports your thesis and the entire essay. Moreover, these paragraphs are written to explain the topic of the essay thoroughly. 

  • Use a good topic sentence to start each paragraph. 
  • Use all the evidence that you have collected to support your essay. 
  • Analyze all the information and make sure that it is understandable for the reader.
  • End each body paragraph with concluding remarks that add a transitional effect. It will connect the reader to the next paragraph. 
  • Use smooth transitions between sentences. 

Draft a Conclusion

The conclusion is the last part of the essay. It must be written in such a way that it leaves an impression on the reader. Therefore, a writer must know how to write a conclusion properly

  • The essay conclusion must start with the restatement of the thesis statement. It will allow the reader to recall the main purpose of your essay. 
  • Summarize the key elements of your essay. However, do not drag and keep it to the point. 
  • Answer all the possible questions that could arise in the reader’s mind. It must give a sense of accomplishment. 

Proofread and Edit

Once you are done writing the outline for your essay, the final step is to re-check it. Reread it and see if any spelling mistakes need to be corrected. Never miss this step, as the quality of the essay depends on this.

  • Read the outline aloud to identify any grammatical mistakes. It will allow you to analyze the sentences you have used to make sense. 
  • Remove extra and irrelevant details. 
  • Ensure that the information you have used is logical. 

Here, we have mentioned a detailed outline for you to get an idea of writing one.

Expository Essay Outline Examples

Below-given are some examples of expository essay outlines. Use them as a guide and create an effective outline.

Expert Tip

Looking for more examples? Check out this blog featuring compelling expository examples.

In conclusion, the expository essay outline provides an effective structure for organizing and presenting information in an expository essay. By following this format provided in this blog, you can ensure that your essay is well-structured, coherent, and informative. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 5 parts of the expository essay?

The five parts of an expository essay are;

  • Introduction.
  • First body section/paragraph.
  • Second body section/paragraph.
  • Third body section/paragraph.
  • Conclusion.

What should an expository essay include?

Expository essays require the writer to investigate an idea, gather and present evidence, and argue a point of view. This can be done in different ways, such as through compare and contrast, cause and effect, or examples.

How many paragraphs should an expository essay have?

An expository essay typically consists of five paragraphs. This includes an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. However, it's important to note that the number of paragraphs can vary depending on the length and complexity of the essay.

Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

For more than five years now, Cathy has been one of our most hardworking authors on the platform. With a Masters degree in mass communication, she knows the ins and outs of professional writing. Clients often leave her glowing reviews for being an amazing writer who takes her work very seriously.

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