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What Is an Exemplification Essay?

By Meghan Perry
Updated: May 23, 2024

Using a variety of examples to support a general observation is the main component of an exemplification essay. There is more to this type of essay, however, than just providing a lot of examples. Choosing the most effective examples is important, as is deciding how to organize them so that the essay is clear and easy to follow. The types of examples used in an exemplification essay may be taken from personal experience or from outside sources; if the latter is the case, then research is necessary to complete the essay. The types of examples used often depend on the topic the writer has chosen or been assigned.

The point of an exemplification essay is usually either to explain something, to prove something, or to show something through examples. It is important for the writer to decide what the purpose or intent of the essay is. The audience, or who the essay is being written for, is also important to consider, as it may affect decisions such as organization or which examples to use as supporting evidence.

The exemplification essay begins with an introduction. At this time, the writer introduces the topic and generally includes a thesis statement, which tells the reader what the writer is going to prove in the following paragraphs, as well as the writer's view on the topic. The thesis statement should have an angle, or viewpoint, and it is up to the writer to decide what the angle is.

As examples are the key to a good exemplification essay, it may be useful to list as many as possible before beginning to write. Examples can be either brief or lengthy or a combination of the two. Each paragraph in the body of the text should provide at least one example that relates directly to the thesis statement. Each paragraph may begin with a topic sentence, show examples, and then end with a concluding sentence. Whether brief or lengthy, the examples should be as specific as possible; lengthy examples may be used to support more complex concepts.

Some examples may be based on the writer's personal experience, but generally, other types are also desirable in an exemplification essay. Statistics and facts that support the thesis may be used. These types of examples generally show a more representative view of support for the thesis statement.

Organization is also important in an exemplification essay. The examples provided should follow a logical organization. Transition sentences should be used between paragraphs and within paragraphs to help the reader follow the main points. The conclusion of the exemplification essay should summarize both the body of the paper and the thesis statement, and the essay is generally better if it leaves the reader with a strong impression.

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