A photograph of four play dough brains

Source: Meeting of the Minds, Krissy Venosdale, Flickr

Synthesis is what our brains do all the time to combine and to make sense of multiple bits of information. For example, when you meet a new person, your brain might immediately store three bits of information about him or her: the person's name, the person's appearance, and the circumstances that caused you to meet. As you talk, your brain continues to add details about the person’s personality, interests, and conversation. If you spend time with this new person, your brain will eventually add all the experiences you share, adding up to one huge synthesis of information.

An expository essay is a multi-paragraph essay that communicates information about a topic. The writer explains, describes, and informs the reader about a topic using facts, details, and examples in a clear and concise way. A procedural essay is a multi-paragraph essay that also communicates information. The writer explains how to complete a process, describing the steps in detail so that readers can follow them.

A drawing of a man holding two telephone receivers to his ears

Source: Adolphe Bitard - Téléphone cropped2-3, Wikimedia

When we want to write an expository text or procedural text using multiple sources, the goal is to synthesize or combine all the information from the various sources into a logical whole essay. The key to writing a good essay is to make it coherent so that all the bits of information make sense.

To get an idea of how the concept of synthesis works, watch this short video.

A photograph of five people holding their fingers out in a ‘v’ sign that makes a star

Source: Philippines: De La Salle University - Dasmarinas
10-10-10 and 350ppm Campaign, 350.0rg, Flickr

Writing your own expository or procedural text that synthesizes ideas from several sources can be as easy as 1-2-3. Think about the process as similar to writing a song for guitar, bass, and drums. First, you begin with an idea for a song by creating the guitar part. Then, you let the bass player in to play chords along with your melody. Finally, you invite the drummer to add the rhythm to the music. You synthesize or combine all these parts to make one coherent or understandable song.

Let’s say we have an assignment to write an expository essay titled “The Health Benefits of Walking vs. Running.” To get us started, we can divide our expository writing process into these three steps:

Step One: Analyze our various sources.
Step Two: Pull out the major points we want to make from each one.
Step Three: Put all the points together into a coherent essay.

A photograph of a MOOG synthesizer. It is a key board and a mixing board.

Source: Moog Modular 55 img2, Kimi95, Wikimedia

In this lesson, you will learn how to write an expository text that synthesizes ideas from several sources, and you can use the ideas you learn in this lesson to write procedural essays, too.