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The Common Approaches of Expository Writing

Expository writing is one of the four most common rhetorical modes. It is used to inform or to explain. The writer must assume that the reader has no prior knowledge or understanding of the topic.

What are Expositions Used for?

  • Business letters
  • Recipes, how-tos, and other instructions
  • Personal letters
  • Reports
  • News stories
  • Wills
  • and much more!


Clarity is needed in the text because the writer is trying to explain something to the reader, and for this organization is key. Good organization keeps the exposition from being messy and confusing to the reader and will convey what the writer is trying to say more effectively.

8 Different Expository Organizational Patterns

There are 8 common ways to organize an exposition:

  • Circumlocution
    • The writer discusses a topic and then transitions to a different but related topic.
  • Narrative Interspersion
    • Usually a pattern or a sub-pattern embedded within another pattern. The writer includes a narrative within the expository for specific purposes- whether it’s to clarify or to elaborate, or to tie in personal experience.
  • Recursion
    • The writer discusses a topic and restates it with different words or through symbolism. This method is used to give emphasis on the text and to really sell a point.
  • Description
    • The writer talks about a topic through describing features, characteristic, and examples.
    • Includes details about taste, appearance, smell, etc.
    • Cue words are:
    • the characteristics are
    • for example
  • Sequence
    • The writer lists things in order, either numerically or chronologically.
    • Cue words are:
    • first, second, third
    • next, then, finally
  • Comparison
    • The writer explains to the reader how two or more things are different from each other or how they are alike.
    • Cue words are:
    • different, on the other hand, in contrast...