How to Use Expository Writing in Nonfiction to Establish Your Expert Credentials

by Bennett R. Coles

Expository Writing

If you’re a business owner or a professional writing a book, you’ll need to use the expository writing style in addition to the narrative, descriptive and persuasive styles in order to create a well rounded book. More specifically, you’ll be using the expository style to establish your credentials as an expert in your field and to prove to your audience that you’re credible and trustworthy.

What Is Expository Writing?

The goal of expository writing is to provide your readers with the facts and figures that are necessary to back up your book’s problem-solving thesis.

This information is only meant to be relevant to your audience (not to your peers!) so while it needs to be accurate don’t make it too academic or encyclopedic; don’t make it read like a professional journal.

Expository writing is meant to reassure your readers that you have thoroughly researched your topic and that your solution is supported by facts and figures corroborated by external sources.

It’s perfectly okay for you to introduce a novel way to look at a problem or a new angle, but it must be based on existing research. Expository writing is a confidence-building style – the goal isn’t to persuade your readers but to instill trust in them.

Characteristics of Expository Writing

For expository writing to work, you must stay away from generalities and focus instead on specifics. When it comes to the information that you’ll be using to support your unique solution, you want to be clear, concise and avoid going off on unnecessary tangents.

You want your audience to get your points right away using simple language. Your nonfiction book must be written to convince your audience that your unique solution is the best one suited for solving their problem. It’s not there to showcase your scientific vocabulary or your writing prowess.

Last but not least: write to inform, not to confirm. Never assume that your audience already knows your subject matter.

In summary, expository writing has the following characteristics:

  • It’s clear and concise
  • It’s highly organized
  • It’s devoid of personal opinions
  • It’s fact rich
  • If necessary, it can be supported by visuals (charts, graphs, tables, etc.)

What Are the Different Types of Expository Writing?

There are seven main types of expository writing. Although you could use any of them in your book, try to focus on a small number at first and see how it flows. The use of too many types could become distracting to your reader.

1st Type: Comparative Expository Writing

Use this type when you need to compare two or more things in order to highlight similarities and differences. For example, you can use the comparative type to show the difference between good fats and bad fats and their impact on a person’s metabolism.

2nd Type: Sequential Expository Writing

Use this type to describe a series of steps that’s necessary to achieve an outcome. For example, you could list items in a pre-defined order like a cookbook recipe or you could show items chronologically, such as listing a set of circumstances that have led to a key discovery.

3rd Type: Descriptive Expository Writing

Use this type when you need to describe specific facts and figures to support your book’s thesis. For example, you could describe the characteristics and features of the approach that was used to arrive at your discovery, showing examples that are relevant to your audience.

4th Type: Causal Expository Writing

Use this type to illustrate the cause-effect relationship when your solution was applied to the problem at hand. For example, you could describe how a certain diet resulted in a reduction of a key pathogen over time in a group of subjects.

5th Type: Problem-Solving Expository Writing

Use this type to show the process you used to find the solution to a problem, along with the necessary facts and figures that support your solution. For example, you could use scientific data to show how, contrary to popular belief, ingesting good fats can actually speed up your metabolism making you lose weight.

6th Type: Classifying Expository Writing

Use this type when you need to break down a broad topic into individual components in order to make a point. For example, you could split food into different groups to show the nutritional impact of each group on your body.

7th Type: How-To Expository Writing

Use this type to describe a step-by-step process needed to achieve a desired result. For example, you could show the steps your reader needs to follow in order to repair an item.

In Conclusion

By balancing the expository writing style with the narrative, descriptive and persuasive styles you’ll be able to create a nonfiction book that will establish your credentials as an expert in your field while at the same time engaging your reader’s senses, developing a deep connection and persuading them to take your desired action.

If you’d like to see a summary of all four writing styles, read my companion article: How to Use All 4 Writing Styles to Create an Exciting Nonfiction Book.

Happy writing!

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.


Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

Here are some related articles I highly recommend:

How to Write a Compelling Book in 12 Steps: A Must-Read Guide for Nonfiction Authors

The 10 Must-Have Writing Skills for Nonfiction Authors

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

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