Order now
24/7 - Call Us Anytime
44 203 519 4328

How to Write an Explanatory Essay: A Plain Language Guide


Stuck with your essay?

Get in touch with one of our experts for instant help!

Messenger Messenger
Live chat Live chat

How to Write an Explanatory Essay

Some people seem to have a natural talent for explaining things. They can easily convey a sophisticated idea and break a complex thing into simple components. If you are not the one with such a talent, don’t worry – there is a solution to train your explanatory abilities. The solution is called an explanatory essay, and it can be effectively practiced in school and college. This guide will quickly help you start using plain language and easy-to-follow examples.   

What Is an Explanatory Essay

As the name suggests, this essay type explains things. The classic explanatory essay definition says that this paper aims to present a concept, information, or explain a phenomenon or a topic clearly.

The purpose of an explanatory essay is to analyze those things in an easy to comprehend manner. To this end, the author may resort to breaking complex ideas and concepts into something simpler and more meaningful for the reader.

The Key Features of an Explanatory Essay 

To learn how to write a good explanatory essay, you need to understand its key features:

  • Specific and narrow topic. This essay should be dedicated to a specific thing, phenomenon, or event and describe only it, without touching on more general issues.
  • Objective presentation. Unlike other academic papers, an explanatory essay represents an objective position of the author, their judgments, thoughts, and opinions.
  • Personal take. Through this essay type, the reader perceives and analyzes your judgments, worldview, impressions, or experiences. This helps the reader to understand the described thing, event, or phenomenon.

The topic of your essay can be dedicated to philosophy, literary criticism, science, history, journalism, or art. You can also pay attention to how long is a 200 word essay?

Practice How to Start an Explanatory Essay

To begin with, you as an author need to come up with an explanatory essay outline. Writing with an outline will significantly save your time and make your task easier and perfectly manageable.

For example, let’s take the following topic and make an outline for it:

How Nuclear Radiation Works

Your outline may then be as follows:




Introduction Introduce the topic and its significance. Imagine a scenario where the world experiences a nuclear war…
Overview of Nuclear Radiation Explain the basics of nuclear radiation. Detail the principle of radioactive decay and the different particles that it emits (alpha, beta, gamma).
Mechanism of Nuclear Radiation Production Describe how nuclear radiation comes into being. Take the process of a nuclear explosion and explain how it generates radioactive isotopes.
Effects of Nuclear Radiation Focus on the effects of radiation on living organisms. Give examples of how exposure to isotopes impacts the human body and nature (e.g., burns, cancer, mutations, food and water contamination).
Safety Measures and Precautions List modern safety and precautionary measures. Explain how to behave in the event of a nuclear explosion to stay alive.
Conclusion Sum up the main points from your explanation. Stress the importance of understanding the physics of radioactivity and observing safety protocols.

In the explanatory essay example above, the four central sections make up the main body of your essay – the part where you present your points, enabling you to explain the topic to the reader. The exact sections of your essay may differ in name and in number, as each explanatory essay is unique.  

How To Write Each Section of an Explanatory Essay

Now let’s take a look at how to write each of the sections mentioned above. Since, a standard explanatory essay structure consists of three distinct parts (introduction, the main body, and conclusion), below we review them in the same sequence.

How to Write an Explanatory Essay Introduction

In the introduction, it is necessary to provide readers with a brief description of the subject of your essay. Don’t immediately resort to arguments. Instead, explain the topic in the first several sentences, and formulate a hypothesis that you will attempt to corroborate in the main body.

For example, your main hypothesis about the topic of nuclear radiation can be:

Radioactive decay is the natural process that occurs in our environment. However, in the event of a nuclear explosion, this process becomes magnified a billion times and represents a big danger to humans and the environment.

How to Write the Main Body of an Explanatory Essay

In the main body of your essay, you’ll need to provide reasoning and evidence to explain the main point – the thesis statement. This can be achieved by splitting the problem into sections (breaking a complex thing into integral elements), and explaining each section separately. A similar approach is reflected in the outline example provided earlier.

Alternatively, an explanatory essay body paragraph may contain a step-by-step description of a process or event. In any case, the organization of your essay plays a key role. Other distinctive characteristics of an explanatory essay’s main body are:

  • Objective tone of voice: as the author, you should stay unbiased and maintain focus on facts and evidence, rather than personal opinions and one-sided arguments;
  • Clarity: your arguments and reasoning should be phrased clearly to avoid confusion and misinterpretation;
  • Thoroughness: explain complex things, avoid difficult terms and abbreviations, and use numbers and statistics if needed.

Students often commit the same mistake – they jump from one point to another and overly complicate things. If you’ve made your focus on nuclear radiation in the introduction, don’t bring in new or related notions like chemical or biological hazards, mass panic, etc., in the event of a nuclear explosion or war. 

How To Craft an Explanatory Essay Conclusion

The conclusion of this essay type should be clear and concise. For example, you can briefly summarize the main lessons learned from the explanation of the topic, i.e., nuclear radiation, and/or reflect on the thesis introduced in the opening of your essay. The idea is not to introduce any new notions, terms, or ideas. If you want, you can suggest the direction for further research on the topic for your readers, though that suggestion should ideally fit into a single sentence. 

The Key Takeaway

Writing an explanatory essay is not difficult. Yes, it may require you to learn new tricks and adjust your writing style accordingly, but in the long run, this experience will be your main knowledge asset in communication with other people, convincing them, providing important information, and in doing so, pursuing your own goals and ambitions in life and career.

24/7 - Call Us Anytime


Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!

Plagiarism-free guarantee


Plagiarism-free guarantee


Plagiarism-free guarantee


Plagiarism-free guarantee

Money back