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Snap Language

Getting Smarter through Language

5 Rhetorical Modes of Writing
Expository Mode

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In expository or informative writing, your main goal is to teach or explain something to your readers.

For that purpose, you typically present facts and objective information and provide examples, definitions, illustrations, and so on.


Expository or informative mode of writing

Impact on readers. Expository writing focuses on conveying information to readers who want to learn something objectively.

Tone. In general, the tone of expository writing is objective, logical, and instructional though writers have creative freedom to change the tone for their own purpose.

Type of materials. Expository writing is typically found in news articles; textbooks and training materials; scientific and business reports; and instructional, how-to articles, and explainers.

Students answering exam questions would likely choose an expository mode of writing when the purpose of the answer is to demonstrate what they have learned.

Example expository writing

Below is an expository paragraph in a New York Times article by Ted Alcorn.

Americans drank more during the [COVID-19] pandemic, but national data on the change have only recently become available. Alcohol tax revenues collected by the U.S. Treasury Department rose by eight percent in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2021, compared with the previous year, and remain well above pre-pandemic levels.

Deaths caused by drinking also rose during the pandemic, spiking 25 percent in 2020 over the previous year. But the deaths — which have topped 140,000 nationwide — have been rising for decades in every state. . . . 


Alcorn, Ted. “Rise in Deaths Spurs Effort to Raise Alcohol Taxes.” The New York Times, 11 Sept. 2022, .

Note. As you can see, the above example is purely didactic in nature. The author presents statistical information in a neutral, scholarly tone to contrast information before and during the pandemic.

Up Next: Narrative Mode

Continue the course to learn about the narrative mode of writing.