An explanatory essay is one of the most common types of academic papers in high school and college. It is a pure example of an expository style of writing – that is why it is also called an expository essay sometimes. The goal of such essays is to explain a topic, idea, phenomenon or event, expand on it, and educate the reader about its subject without persuading them. That is why explanatory essays are a particular favorite of teachers, who want to verify how well you have digested the learning material. To explain, you must understand the subject inside out.
For the same reason, explanatory topics are usually assigned to you by your teachers and are rarely left at your own discretion. However, sometimes it happens and you can get a carte blanche on the topic. Unfortunately, this can also make your mind go blank. If that is the case, below you will find a collection of explanatory essay topics ideas and suggested prompts as an inspiration.
If you are not sure about the format, check out our guide on how to write an explanatory essay.
Explanatory Writing Topics On History
- Explain how the Renaissance paved the way to the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution.
- What made Boston the center of colonial opposition to British authority? Explain the conditions that led to it.
- Explain the impact that the Declaration of Independence had on the US nation and the nations of the world.
- What was the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation?
- Compare and contrast Roosevelt’s Square Deal with Wilson’s New Freedom.
- What were the main causes of the Great Depression?
- Explain how new technologies used in World War 1 influenced warfare.
- Why in the interwar years the extremist parties in Europe were largely more successful that before World War 1?
- What were the motives for the United States’ decision to use atomic bombs against Japan and what at the time were the arguments against this action?
- How Reconstructionera struggle to achieve equality led to the civil rights movement in the 1950s?
Interesting Explanatory Essay Ideas On English and Literature
- William Shakespeare is sometimes called the father of the Modern English language. Explain the influence that Shakespeare’s work had on the development of English we speak today.
- Some historians of literature refer to Jane Austen as “protorealist” meaning that her style is a blend of romanticism and nascent realism. What aspects of her novels are characteristic of realism and romanticism respectively?
- Explore the symbolism of the physical landscape in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
- Explain the meanings of symbols that Nathaniel Hawthorne uses in The Scarlett Letter.
- Compare Nora and Krogstad and their relations to society in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
- Explain how Fitzgerald’s disillusionment with the American dream is expressed in The Great Gatsby.
- What are some examples of foreshadowing in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck? Choose the most significant ones and explain them in detail.
- Explain the meaning of selfishness according to Ayn Rand as demonstrated in Atlas Shrugged.
- Explain how and to what effect Ray Bradbury uses quotations from literature in Fahrenheit 451.
- Explain how the title of Lorraine Hansberry’s play The Raisin in the Sun relates to the dreams of its characters.
Topics For An Explanatory Essay On Science
- What are the main similarities and differences between an animal cell and a plant cell?
- The importance of biodiversity for humanity
- What are the different types of viruses and their characteristics?
- What are the advantages of sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction?
- A history of the Periodic Table
- What are the main types of chemical bonds and their characteristics?
- What are the main contributions that alchemy made to the development of chemistry?
- What are the main types of magnetism?
- How did Einstein's Theory of Relativity impact the world?
- What are the main types of stars and their characteristics?
Topics For Explanatory Essays On Business
- Explain the opportunity cost
- How do tariffs work?
- What are the monopolies and how do they affect the market?
- What the main features of gross profit?
- What are the most common types of investors in a new business?
- What are the principles behind the creation of the World Trade Organization?
- What risks are associated with starting a new business? How to assess them?
- What are the principles of charity as an advertising strategy?
- Explain how branding and marketing have changed in the 21st century
- How sustainable consumption ideas have influenced marketing strategies?
Ideas For Explanatory Essay On Technology
- What are the dangers of space debris? What contributes to the space trash problems?
- What are the most important inventions we use daily that resulted from space exploration?
- How has technology influenced the way people interact socially?
- Explain how technology has contributed to women’s emancipation
- What are some examples of communities that reject technologies and their motives for preserving alternative ways of life?
- What are the potential dangers associated with the technological singularity?
- What are the main controversies surrounding technology in healthcare?
- What are the dangers and the perspectives of the Dark Web?
- What are the key points in the technology life cycle?
- What are the main technological revolutions in human history?
Explanatory Essay Topics on Social Studies
- What is Identity Politics and what role it plays in today’s society?
- Explain the role of socialization in gender identity.
- Explain how diversity and representation in media contribute to inclusion and equal opportunities in the workplace.
- What is the general conclusion of the nature vs nurture debate in Psychology?
- What are the two types of Sociology?
- What are the main social classes in the United States and what defines them?
- What are the five types of deviance in Sociology?
- What are the main theories of Global Stratification?
- What are the main states of consciousness known to modern Psychology and what are their characteristics?
- Explain how the environment influences creativity.
Not enough? Check our vast database for more miscellaneous examples of explanatory essays or look for topics on a particular subject you are interested in. You can also use our essay topic generator to narrow down your search to pinpoint precision.
Don’t forget that our writers can help you with this as well! If you aren’t sure about your topic, you can always pick “Writer’s Choice” and the writer will come up with the topic for you.