How to Write an Explanatory Essay

How to Write an Explanatory Essay

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Situation and all events in our lives need to be told to others so that they can not only remember them in their lives, but they can also draw some good lessons from them. Importantly, such events have varying viewpoints which are dependent on the angles adopted by those who are interested in learning something out of them. Considering that persuasion is a daunting task and those targeted may not necessarily buy one standpoint, it is crucial to argue by applying statistics and proof to the effect that the position you are projecting has some verifiable evidence. Essentially, this is all about an explanatory article.

Before embarking on the writing process, it is imperative to understand an explanatory essay. So then, what is an explanatory essay? Basically, this is a writing style whereby points and views on a subject or topic are presented by an author to the readers so that they can have an understanding of what is being projected or rather brought forth by the writer. The key aspect of the presented view is that it is hinged on well-researched data and doesn’t necessarily have to be representative of what the author believes in. When learning how to write an explanatory essay, a student must first appreciate the need to identify a compelling topic as well as the logical approach they want to employ. The substance of the approach is that it serves to give the article some ample room for discussion thus adding flesh to what would otherwise be just a plain presentation. Open-mindedness is the key to a great discussion when writing an explanatory essay. It is advisable not to project a biased position that defends one angle or criticizing one. The writer must be careful to avoid writing a personal article that may technically exclude the readers because good writing must be positively argumentative. Neutrality is the key aspect and the driving force for explanatory essays. The subject presented must be emphasized by credible evidence and facts.

Remember as a writer that the task requires that the doubts and possible confusion are cleared via well articulate and vivid explanations making the readers understand the reasons for the outcome of the event. This is the ultimate goal and point to stick in one’s mind even before creating an explanatory essay format or even an explanatory essay example.

When writing an explanatory essay, it is important to come up with a number of things that will guide the writing and consequently lead to a great article. The following are some of the considerable undertakings;

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Coming up with Explanatory Essay Topics

Each day is characterized by some eventful activities and actions that can be turned into great explanatory essay topics for discussion. It is, therefore, hard to imagine not having a topic. Given that such events could be of interest to others, they can be explained via essays and can be kept as part of the history as long as they are accompanied by some strong facts and evidence.

A simple startup could be a topic such as:

  • What Political Events Led to the Independence of The United States of America?

This might be very interesting to the audiences who would like to know America’s past and the struggles that lead to the liberation of the country. Importantly, the independence of the USA has been documented a lot and people would love to know your angle as a writer on this subject as well as how you place facts to explain this event in a manner that is different from the way it was done in the past and what new information you are adding.

  • How Did the September 11th Terror Attack Affect the World’s Economy?

This is another interesting topic that seeks to explain to the readers the relationship between the world’s economy and terror attacks. American readers would love to know how the country contributes to the overall economy of the world and how horrific events such as terrorism impact the world.

The Impact of Cyberbullying on Today’s Society

Every day, cases of harassment and bullying occur, and this is mostly mediated by the internet. As millions of young people communicate every day, the content of their messages gravely affects the society, especially where negative information is relayed via the internet. Cyberbullying has become a common phenomenon with many families affects worldwide. Exploring this topic would really be interesting to the readers. Writing an article using this topic as an explanatory essay example would be a great idea and would be compelling to readers who are concerned about the welfare of the society.

Explanatory Essay Format: APA

Formatting an article using the American Psychological Association style is one that is commonly used in most of the learning institutions worldwide. APA is used in formatting explanatory essays addressing topics that are discussing areas such as education, humanities and social sciences in general. The general formatting guide for APA has the following:

  • It recommends the use of times new Romans as the font type

  • The size of the font is 12 points

  • The spacing is double

  • All sides have a one-inch margin

  • The headings are included on the top position of every page and they are required to be not more than 50 characters

  • The page numbers are inserted on the right.

Remember that the APA requirement is such that the sections of the explanatory essay are divided into four parts.

  • The title page bearing the name of the institution, the course name, and code, the date of submission and the professor’s name. This could also include the study mode either as regular or part-time. In most cases, the university and the instructors give instructions to their students on how to go about this part. The typical APA format which is the recommended format, however, requires that;

    • The page headers ought to be put on the left side of the paper and the page numbers should be put on the right side of the paper

    • All the text in the title page and by extension for the entire paper ought to be double spaced.

    • The title should be center aligned and should have a maximum of 12 characters. All the abbreviations in the title must serve a purpose and must first be written in full.

  • The abstract which gives an overview of the problem the explanatory essay seeks to address, the keywords and a brief discussion of the main concept. This usually is one-page writing or a three to four paragraphed discussion that theoretically introduces the reader to the topic. In summary, the key components of the abstract should be:

    • Research questions

    • Research Methods

    • Results

    • Data analysis technique

    • The summary

  • The third part is the main body which is again divided into paragraphs of up to 5 depending on the length of the article. Essentially, the beginning paragraph introduces a thesis statement to the readers and an introduction of the subject to be tackled. The subsequent paragraphs introduce new ideas and reinforce the thesis statement earlier introduced. According to APA, the paragraphs can have subheadings. More so, each paragraph is indented by a single tab. The last part of the body has a conclusion or a summary of the main ideas brought forth by the essay. Even the Explanatory essay format or the outline is structured in such a way as discussed.

  • The reference page is the last page which essentially has the sources cited acknowledged. It is important to remember that APA format alphabetically puts the names of the writers. All the in-text citations are listed in the references.

How to Write an Explanatory Essay Using Chicago Formatting Style

This formatting style is meant to focus on resources used and the sources; this essentially implies that this formatting style is more precise and academically relevant. The style uses footnotes.

The following are the key components or rather the requirements for Chicago formatting style

  • The title page with the texts double spaced, the texts are regular. Student’s name is also included in the title page in addition to the course code or number, supervisors name or code and the date of presentation all double spaced. The title also has a one-inch margin for the three sides apart from the right side.

  • The spacing between the paragraphs is regular, i.e., double spacing is used all through the texts

  • Times new Romans is the recommended font type

  • Font size is 12 points

  • Page numbering is placed on top of each page; on the top right just above the heading

  • Footnotes are used for all the paraphrased passages

  • Unlike the other formatting styles, Chicago has a bibliography at the last page

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MLA Explanatory Essay Format

This format is synonymous with social sciences too. It is almost similar to APA, but the variance is mostly on the area it addresses.

  • It has a title age which has a one-inch margin between the texts and the borders,

  • The font type recommended is times new Romans

  • The font size required for MLA is 12 points

  • Spacing requirements are double for all the texts, i.e., for the title page, for the body and for the cited sources page.

The Prewriting Stage of an Explanatory Essay

Just like any other study, research must be properly done before writing begins. Upon settling on the style to adopt, the writer must get out of their comfort zone and seek more data to include in the document to be written. It is paramount to remember that one’s thoughts can only be argued in the best way possible when there is sufficient information to compliment it. Such information can be acquired only through reading, research and exploring both primary and secondary sources.

Coming Up with an Explanatory Essay Outline

This essentially is a guide to good writing. A writer must be in a position to see his or her final destination and this is only made possible when there is an outline. Having checked on the explanatory essay topics to select, it is time to settle on one and present it in an outline. The outline is structured such that it has a thesis statement, it has the introduction, the main body and it has a conclusion.

Final Touches

Notably, presenting or submitting a document that is not well polished will only portray carelessness and insensitivity on the side of the writer. For that reason, it is advised that the writer go through the document more than once and try to establish any mistake including sentence structure and grammar plus how the content is consistent with the style of formatting chosen. A student can get an opinion from his or her peers.


Writing an explanatory essay may be an enjoyable task only if a student understands the basics. This article has covered three formatting styles and explained how to write How to write an explanatory essay in addition to describing what it is and proposing some interesting topics that can be written about.