How to Write An Explanatory Essay: Topics, Format, Structure, Tips

Writing an explanatory essay is different from writing any other type of essay. So, you need to understand what you are writing and follow certain rules if you hope to get good grades. In this article, you will learn all you need to know about writing an explanatory essay.

Explanatory Essay Definition

What is an explanatory essay? An explanatory essay is a type of essay where you, the writer, give your opinion or view on a topic or an event. You may also call this type of essay expository essay writing. Now, it is important to note that when writing this essay, you do not have to agree completely with your own point of view. The most important thing is you try to be as objective and truthful with facts and events as possible. What this further means is that you should not argue, persuade, or even criticise as you give your opinion.

However, even though you are writing from a neutral point of view, your reader should have a clear understanding of what you are talking about.

How to Write a Good Explanatory Essay? Tips

Now that you understand what an explanatory essay is, the next thing to do is know how to write explanatory essay. These tips will help you write an excellent one:

  1. Use Passive Words and Longer Sentences

Generally, in essay writing, you should use passive words and longer sentences. This is helpful especially if you have a long word count and are scared of how to meet such. For example, rather than write, “The boy saw when the driver hit the old lady and fled”, you could write, “The driver, who was seen by the boy who was at the venue of the accident, hit the old lady and fled”.

Now, if you noticed, sentence 1 had 12 words while sentence 2 had 22 words. If you want to hit your word count goal fast, then it is advised to write like sentence 2.

  1. Use Linking Words

When writing your explanatory essay, you must understand that you are not writing bullet points. As such, you need to link your sentences or paragraphs together as long as they are within the same context. This will also allow your essay to flow in a manner that is easy for your reader to understand. Examples of linking words include:

First of all, secondly, however, in addition to, for example, on the other hand, etc.

  1. Cite Sources

In academic writing, your lecturers will mark you down if you do not mention academic or other authoritative sources where you got your information. To cite your sources, all you need to do is write out the author’s surname and the year of publication before the information.

  1. Avoid Personal Pronouns

Except you were specifically asked to do so, it is best to avoid personal pronouns such as “I state” “it is my opinion” etc. Usually, it is best to write in the third person pronoun when writing your essay.

  1. Revise Your Work

Make sure you read your essay at least twice before you submit it. Ask yourself these questions when you revise:

  • Does this essay have an objective?
  • Can the reader understand what you are trying to communicate without getting confused?
  • Are there any linking words in this essay?
  • Are there facts to back up opinions?
  1. Use a Plagiarism Checker

Before you submit your essay, make sure you check for plagiarism. If you find any, fix them or you stand the risk of getting punished.

  1. Give Someone to Help You Proofread

After you are done with your explanatory writing, give a senior or an expert to help you proofread and make necessary corrections.

Your teacher will most likely use an explanatory essay rubric to grade your essay. If you follow these tips, you are more likely to get good results.

Explanatory Essay Format

The basic explanatory essay structure is an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. While your introduction is the first thing your reader will read, it is usually advisable to write this last. This is because your introduction will tell your reader everything they are to expect from your essay and you cannot know this yet until you write your body paragraphs. In your body paragraphs, make sure you support all your claims with facts from authoritative sources. Also, put the tips above to work here. In your conclusion, summarize everything you have done and show whether you have achieved your objective.

How Many Paragraphs in an Explanatory Essay?

This depends on your word count. However, the paragraphs are usually between 3 – 5.

Explanatory Essay Topics

  1. What is communal responsibility?
  2. Can adults be bullies?
  3. Is love a feeling?
  4. What is perfection?
  5. Nothing lasts forever. Discuss.


Your explanatory essay can be as easy as you want. All you need to do is follow these tips for a successful result.