Exemplification means to provide examples about something. Writing an exemplification essay typically involves offering many examples to support a generalization about something. In this type of essay, examples act as supporting material to explain or clarify the generalization. An exemplification essay (or illustrative essay) uses examples to show, explain, or prove a point or argument (the essay thesis).
The key to a good exemplification essay is to use enough detailed and specific examples to get the point across. Examples should be carefully chosen so that they will appeal to readers and help them understand the main point of your essay.
Effective examples should enhance your writing, giving your essay vitality and intensity. Exemplification essays may contain both brief and comprehensive examples. Brief examples may occur relatively frequently within the essay, with just enough concise details to illustrate clear-cut ideas.
Comprehensive examples are used to illustrate complex ideas that can not be adequately explained using brief examples.
The examples used in your essay must be relevant; that is, they must be directly to the point. You should not necessarily expend lots of ink on a particular example just because you have found a lot of information on it.
Instead, find as many examples as possible and then be choosey about what you include, using the strongest, most representative, examples. Make every example work in your favor. The examples used in your essay must also be representative. Unless you are specifically discussing exceptions to a rule, your examples must reflect the majority (i.e., what is usually the case, or what is “on average” true). You might, for example, hear a drinker try to deny the risks of heavy drinking because he knew someone who drank every day until he was ninety.
This is not a valid example since most people could not drink a lot over an extended period without succumbing to some ill effects. The example does not represent what would usually happen to most people.
Organization (order of importance)
A fundamental skill in writing this essay is that of organization. Consider the order in which sub-claims are presented in the essay that supports the thesis statement. Writers call this the order of importance, and three basic methods exist: 1. Chronological
Chronological order of importance is mainly used in narrative/descriptive essays because events have to be told from beginning to end process-analysis essays because the sequence of steps is crucial to the understanding of the topic cause and effect essays since one thing leads to another
With ascending and descending order of importance, chronology or time sequence does not matter. What’s more important is the degree of the sub-claims.
In the ascending order of importance organizational method, arrange the paragraphs from least significant to most significant so that the reader is left with the strongest point that has to be made. The points gradually build up to a powerful, loud crescendo at the end of the essay. On the other hand, descending order of importance organization works in the opposite direction. The main body paragraphs begin with the most compelling reason or point and gradually work down to the least important point.
Above all, do not just randomly toss reasons or examples into the main body section. Careful readers will detect that this is a sloppy arrangement and give up reading if they have to struggle with the lack of organization.
Although faulty street lights contribute to neighborhood car thefts, pure forgetfulness gives thieves a prime opportunity to steal cars effortlessly. If this thesis sentence were in an essay on the reasons cars get stolen, it is plain to see that “driver forgetfulness” could be the biggest reason cars get stolen. Under this claim, the writer could list several concrete examples or illustrations to make this point clear: 1. drivers who leave their door unlocked
2. drivers who leave the keys in the seat while they dash into the 7-11 store for a quick candy bar
3. drivers who leave the keys in the ignition with the engine running In these 3 internal examples for this paragraph, each is an example of an increasingly more stupid mistake. The unlocked car is an invitation to steal a car, but the thief has to hotwire the vehicle. In the most severe case of forgetfulness (i.e., stupidity), the driver has practically handed the car over to the thief because the driver would never hear the sound of the engine turning over. Hence, this example shows the ascending order of importance to illustrate examples of driver forgetfulness. Clear discussion
The topic of this example essay is driver forgetfulness. But such a claim as the three example sentences about this topic above is not sufficient on its own. The writer must back it up with evidence. That is where the details of explanation come in.
The unlocked door, the keys in the seat, and the keys in the ignition are all examples of forgetfulness (and stupidity, some people might argue). Each of these examples or details need some explaining, so the writer should elaborate on what he or she means through thorough discussion.
Outline of an exemplification essay:
Consider the following diagram to help the writer visualize what a well-developed essay can look like. Keep in mind, though, paragraphs are not formulaic; however this diagram is just meant as an example:
How to Write an Exemplification Essay:
Decide on a topic. Basically, what generalization do you want to exemplify? If a topic is assigned, most likely you will already have a set of generalizations about it so you can just build your essay from that. If you choose your own topic, you will have to decide on a generalization about that topic that you can support with examples.
Determine a purpose. What angle of the generalization do you want to present to the reader? Having a clear purpose will help you choose examples and write your thesis.
Think about your audience. How do you think members of the audience feel about the generalization that you are discussing?
Make a list of examples related to your generalization. Initially list all examples that you can think of–you will narrow them down later. Include anecdotes (short stories), facts, statistics and any other types of examples as appropriate.
Choose examples from the list that are relevant to your purpose. Make sure that all of the ones that you choose support the generalization. Obviously, you do not want to choose ones that contradict your purpose.
Write a thesis statement. The thesis statement should state the generalization that you are exemplifying and make it clear that you are attempting to support it with examples.
Write an introduction that lets your reader know what to expect from your essay and states the thesis.
Write a well-developed body that supports the thesis. The body should fully support the generalization. Each paragraph should directly relate to the thesis.
Arrange your examples logically. It may be important to categorize examples if you have a lot of them so that you don’t confuse your reader.
Use transition words and phrases to guide readers through your essay.Write a conclusion that sums up the essay’s main points and restates the thesis. Remember to make it clear in the conclusion what you want readers to take away with them.