Ideas for Explanatory Essays

Explanatory essays provide readers with information on a specific topic, requiring writers to not only offer details on the subject but also provide context and overall comprehension. From grades four through twelve, students develop the skills necessary to research and write explanatory essays. While skill development is important in perfecting the art of essay writing, choosing a topic can be equally challenging, and it requires writers to consider a variety of categories from everyday life to broad ranging social and political issues.

Opinion-Based Topics

Depending on the topic under examination, explanatory essay topics require varying levels of research. Some topics require no additional research aside from the writer’s own observations. Topics can include opinion pieces on specific programs or school policies, such as the writer’s views on desirable changes to the school lunch program or the importance of the school’s code of conduct. Other topics can center around the writer’s likes and dislikes, such as essays on favorite foods, animals and activities. It is important when writing on these types of topics that the writer clearly explains the topic and his position, including significant details and examples to help provide the reader with a full understanding of the subject.

Personal Experience Topics

Like opinion-based explanatory essay topics, explanatory essays based on personal experience do not always require research. In addition, the same rules of clarity and the inclusion of pertinent details allow for a fuller exploration of the topic. Topics can include the exploration of individual experiences with educators, parents and friends. Other topics can be less people centered, with writers discussing their experiences with a certain book through a discussion of the book and how it affected the writer.

How-To Topics

Explanatory essays provide readers with the information necessary to understand a subject; how-to topics, which require consideration of even the most minute of steps of a process, are excellent practice for writers seeking to master this form of essay. Writers can choose how-to topics that range from simple to complex. Simple how-to topics might include how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or how to make homemade papier-mâché crafts. More complex topics may deal with subjects such as science and engineering, such as how to create a chemical compound or design a mechanical blueprint.

Social and Political Topics

Current and past social and political issues provide writers with a variety of explanatory essay topics, which are detailed through objective research and presentation of the subject. Writers must clearly describe the issue, provide background information, and make objective hypotheses based on the information gathered. Social and political topics may include controversial issues such as abortion or the death penalty, social institutions such as marriage, or even religious issues. In addition, subjects like the environment and historical events, such as industrialization or changing class structures, are also viable topics.

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