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How to Write a Process Essay – No Need to Stress

November 02, 2015 - Posted toWriting

Content how to write a process essay   x essays

How to Write a Process Essay – No Need to Stress

If you have ever assembled something by following the manufacturer’s instructions, you have been on the receiving end of a written process, even if it was confusing. And if it was confusing, you probably thought that you could have written those instructions better yourself. Now you have our chance.

Defining the Process Essay

The definition is in the title – process. There is a process, in fact, for completing every task that one might assume. There is a process by which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly; there is a process by which a computer connects to the Internet wireless. And when you write a process essay, you are describing all of the steps in how something is done – consider it a “how to” essay.


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Selecting a Topic

The choice of a topic may very well be the most important part of process essay writing. First, you will need to consider a process that you know well. This is important because you have to assume that your reader knows absolutely nothing. And your job will be to explain the process in such detail and so carefully that your reader will able to repeat it.

The Steps for Writing a Process Essay

  1. Once you have your topic, you are ready to begin the process. And what follows here will be exactly like a process essay. When you review these steps and follow them, your essay will be correct.
  2. Research. Even if you are writing an essay on something you have done hundreds of times (saddling a horse), you are probably doing it almost unconsciously at this point. When something becomes this familiar, it is difficult to explain it to someone else. So, it is only smart to do some research and read how someone else explains it. There may be small detail that you would have forgotten to include. Take notes on the process explanation so that you won’t forget something. For example, you can’t just say, “tighten the cinch.” Your reader will not even know what a “cinch” is.
  3. Organize Your Thoughts and Notes: Above all, the process essay is considered “chronological.” It is a step-by-step process in the order in which each step occurs. So, in many ways, the process essay is one of the easiest to organize for writing. Your organizational graphic can be as simple as a list of each major step, leaving space under each step for the details you will need.
  4. Add the Detail: Under each step that you have written down, add the detail that will make that step very clear to a reader. In saddling a horse, for example, the very first step will be to get the bridle on so that the horse can be tethered to something that will keep him somewhat still so that you can saddle him.
  5. Write the Rough Draft: Write your body paragraphs first. Once they are finished, see if you can replicate the process physically from your own instructions. And then give a friend the essay (one who does not know how to do what you are describing) and ask him/her to try to replicate the process from your explanation. If all goes well, you are ready to move forward.
  6. Write Your Introduction and Conclusion: Unlike many other essays, your thesis does not have to be “deep.” You might want to address the importance of knowing how to do what you are about to explain, or how much fun it will be to know how to do something.
  7. Review and Edit: Obviously, you would do this with any essay you produce. Clean up your grammar and punctuation and make sure you have good transitional words and sentences.
  8. Type Your Final Copy and Submit.
Do’s  Don’ts
  • Do find and use good transitional words and sentences. Words like “first, next, before finally, then, meanwhile” are all words that tell a reader that a step is completed or that you are moving on to the next step.


  • Don’t consider essay finished until you have “walked” through all of the steps yourself and confirmed that you have everything covered. Make sure not to start every sentence with “next” or “then” – it’s boring.


  • Do err on the side of too much information rather than too little.
  • Don’t use technical terminology that you don’t define in very simple terms.

Common Mistakes While Learning How to Write Process Essay Pieces

Watch for these mistakes as you prepare your essay:

  1. Selecting a topic that is too complex of technical for the average reader. The problem with topics that are complex and technical is that you will have to spend a great deal of time defining terms rather than explaining your process.
  2. Selecting a topic that is far too simple and thus boring for the average reader. You know that your audience is reasonably intelligent – your instructor, your fellow students. Selecting a topic that is too simple is almost an insult and smacks of laziness.
  3. Leaving out important detail because you assume that your reader knows something already. The cardinal rule to follow is that your reader knows nothing that you are explaining.

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Some Final Thoughts

A process essay is at the same time one of the easiest and one of the most difficult essays to write. It is easy from an organizational standpoint, because it is a chronological, sequential explanation of the steps for doing something. It is one of the most difficult essays to write because it is so detail-heavy and so dependent upon each detail being included and included in the correct order. If you follow these outlined steps, however, especially “testing” the process you have written, your essay will be well-written and worthy of a great grade.