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What is Expository Text? - Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:02 Expository Text
  • 1:34 Examples
  • 2:09 Exposition with Narrative
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stefani Boutelier

Stefani has a PhD in Education and is a life long learner.

Expository text exposes you to facts: plain and simple. In this lesson, you will learn how to understand and identify expository text. You will be able to distinguish between expository and narrative text and understand why this distinction is important.

Expository Text

When we read fiction novels, we are taking in narrative text. This type of text tells a story and generally uses a lot of emotion. The opposite of this is expository text, which exists to provide facts in a way that is educational and purposeful. The text is fact-based with the purpose of exposing the truth through a reliable source. True and deliberate expository text will focus on educating its reader. Other descriptors of exposition are clear, concise, and organized writing. Expository text gets to the point quickly and efficiently.

Imagine a parent is exposing a child to the thrill of riding a bicycle. They would speak in the form of expository text, providing directions that are fact-based and focused: hands on the bars, one foot on the pedal, push off… and so forth. Most likely, this would have to be done and repeated several times before a child could be off biking alone, but the same phrases would be repeated and the child would be learning.

If a parent tried to teach a child to ride a bike in narrative form, such as only telling the story of when and how they themselves learned to ride or what the weather was like that day, the bike-riding lesson would be less successful. The child would get frustrated and not be exposed to necessary skills for riding a bike. Emotions would take over through the narrative (story telling). The lesson and facts would be a failed attempt.

Examples

Expository text is information-based text. Some common examples are:

Textbooks

News articles

Instruction manuals

Recipes

City or country guides

Language books

Self-help books

Many of these examples are solely expository. Others may also include opinions, which are not considered to be exposing facts; expressing opinion would be another lesson. This lesson itself is in fact another example of expository text. You've been reading exposition for six paragraphs now.

Exposition Combined with Narrative

The genre of non-fiction is filled with expository text; however, it many times also includes narratives. This might be especially true in biographical non-fiction, where facts are learned, but life stories are also written in a narrative style. To separate the two, remember: expository text is to inform and narrative text is to entertain.

Returning back to the bike lessons, we can see where expository text (or speaking) uses only necessary words needed during this lesson. This would teach the child to ride most efficiently and get to the goal faster. Even something that might sound like narrative, such as the parent telling a child that they had to practice for three weeks, is fact-based and purposeful for this lesson. It is a true example that encourages the child to continue to practice and become successful.

Beware! The Internet and search engines do not give you guaranteed access to expository text. Many sites use opinions, facts without research (which is ultimately an opinion), and unreliable sources. You cannot believe everything you read, but if the information comes from a valid and educated author or source then you may consider it expository text.

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