Expository Essays: Writing Topics to Jump Start Your Essay

An expository essay has one goal: to inform the reader. However, this doesn’t mean using a boring voice or tone to create your essay. Expository essays can be a great opportunity for vivid imagery, sensory details, and an engaging tone. But, before you can get started, you need to choose a topic. This topic will be the seed for your essay, and all the ideas and details will grow from it. Be sure to choose wisely! The key is to select a topic interests you. If you’re interested in what you have to say, your writing will reflect that. And, in turn, your writing will become more interesting to the reader.

Here are a few topics to help jump start your essay.

Expository Essay Topics

There are a few different types of expository essays, which vary based on the topic. For example, some expository essays define and explain, while others explore the relationship between a cause and effect. Take a look at some of the topics for each kind of expository essay:

Definition Essays

Definition essays provide detailed information about a subject.

  • Discuss an invention: what is it, how was it developed, and why is it important to people today?
  • Describe a personality trait or value that you believe is important. For example, what does it mean to be a team player? What does it mean to be kind?
  • Explain what something is. Topics like cyberbullying, social media, or democratic processes are recognized. But, do people really know what they are? Describe them in detail!

Problem and Solution Essays

If you’d like to explain a problem in your expository essay, that’s only part of your job. A good expository essay will also offer more than one potential solution to fully develop the essay.

  • Write about a problem in your community. Is there too much litter or graffiti? Are there streetlights out? Is the crime rate rising? Talk about ways your community can pull together to fix things.
  • Describe a problem facing many individuals in society or the world. For example, what are some solutions that might help people combat depression? How can our government better support veterans? What are some ways the country can improve women’s rights?

expository essay; technology; computer

Comparative Essays

Perhaps your expository topic isn’t just one topic. In fact, it’s two topics! Explore the relationship between your topics by discussing the similarities and differences between the two.

  • Talk about the similarities and differences between two types of technology.
  • Write about the ways two leaders or well-known individuals are the same or different.
  • Compare and contrast two potential career paths.

Cause and Effect Essays

Cause and effect essays come in two forms: a single cause and its effects OR several causes that all lead to the same effect.

  • Describe a historical event and the effects it had on society.
  • Explain what the causes of a negative force in the environment, like pollution or global warming.
  • Talk about things that have relationships: two specific time periods, economic structures, political parties, systems of education, or anything else that might spark your interest.

Process Essays

A process essay is a “how-to,” which explains the step-by-step process to complete a task.

  •  Explain how to build something.
  • Tell how to do your favorite hobby.
  • Add some humor, and write ridiculous steps to complete a task. For example, explain how a person might blunder about as they try to navigate a house of mirrors.


The goal of an expository essay is to teach the reader something new! For example, most people probably already know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and no one wants to read about how to clean a hamster cage. Choose something that you’re interested in! Then, you’ll create something that’s informative and entertaining.