Expository Writing: Organization

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12317

Finish your essay. Fix your errors. Write down your ideas. Get a paper and pencil. These steps are out of order and need to be organized. Learn the how-to of how to write a sensible how-to paper!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Do you know how to wash dishes? If you dry them first, then wash them, then put them away, the answer is probably, "No." Do you know how to organize your writing so you don't get the same reaction as putting wet dishes into the cabinet?

Expository writing is writing used to explain something or to inform an audience about a topic.

You can remember what it means by the word "expose." Expository writing exposes people to facts about a topic.

If you missed or would like to review the previous Related Lessons in the Expository Writing series, you can find them in the right-hand sidebar.

One important aspect of expository writing is organization. You want your information organized in such a way that your reader clearly understands the topic or the steps they need to follow. When you write a how-to essay, it is vitally important that you have your steps in the order in which they will be completed. If your steps are out of order, your reader will not complete the task correctly.

Take a piece of paper and pencil and write down the steps for writing an expository essay as you watch the video Expository Writing from awoods0806:

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Begin by reviewing the overall organization of an expository essay.

The main components of an expository essay are:

  1. Introduction the first paragraph; introduces the reader to the topic
  2. Body 1-3 paragraphs, each one giving one reason to support the topic, or providing a set of steps
  3. Conclusion the last paragraph, restates the topic and provides a closing statement that makes the reader want to take action

The next step is to keep your focus on elements that are specific to each paragraph, and stay focused only on these elements. For example, if you are writing a how-to essay, you may want to follow a pre-writing outline such as the following:

Paragraph 1: The Introductory Paragraph

  1. Hook Give your reader a reason to read your essay.

Example: It’s movie night. Your friends are over, you picked the best movie, and all you need now is a snack.

  1. Topic Tell your reader what he or she is going to learn by reading your essay, and get them excited!

Example: Don't grab that microwavable junk that comes out half burnt and half un-popped kernels! Make your own buttery, delicious, theater-style popcorn in just a few minutes!

  1. Supporting ideas and transition to body Prepare your reader to begin the process and list your supporting points if applicable.

Example: You may be thinking that you need a special machine, or that cooking your own popcorn is difficult, or even dangerous. Don't worry; this method is quick and easy, and the only special equipment you'll need is an adult to supervise. Ready to get started? Let's go!

Paragraphs 2-4: Body Paragraphs

  1. Transition Use transition word(s) to begin your first sentence and get your reader prepared to begin the process.

Example: The first thing your will need to do is gather your ingredients and tools. Here's what you will need: (In this type of writing, it is completely acceptable to include a bulleted list.)

  1. Begin first set of instructions (Proceed step-by-step, moving to the next paragraph at a logical point, or when the instructions shift)
  2. Transition to next set of instructions

NOTE: When providing instructions or directions, it is important that you use language that indicates the proper sequence, such as, "First," "Second," "Then," "The last step," etc.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion or Closing Paragraph

  1. Restate your main point or topic in a new way.

Example: Making popcorn on the stovetop is quick, easy, fun, and most importantly, delicious.

  1. Wrap up any loose ends and restate any important points.

Example: Just remember to always be careful, especially when working with hot oil, because it can cause serious burns. This is why you should always have a trusted adult handy when you cook or bake anything.

  1. Make your reader want to take action!

Example: Now that you know how to make the perfect bowl of movie night popcorn, why not grab an adult and head for the kitchen.

Using a pre-writing activity such as the one above or other type of graphic organizer will help you stay focused and make sure you have all of the necessary information in the correct places.

You are just about ready to write an expository essay explaining how to do something.

Continue to the Got It? section where you will preview an example of this type of essay.

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