How to Write a Process Essay: Definition, Preparation Steps


process essay is an instruction, a manual, a how-to, a guide on a certain topic. Writing a process paper means providing the reader with specific information on why and how to do something quickly and effectively. Quitting smoking, writing a book, making waffles, and curing a sore throat are among the most popular topics for writing a process essay, but in general, one topic is as good as another as long as there’s someone interested in learning more about it. Therefore, this article is a sort of guide on how to write a guide, your personal helper, on the arduous journey of helping others.

What is a Process Essay?

As noted above, these types of papers require you to explain how something works (a device, natural phenomenon, aspect of human psychology, et cetera) or provide the reader with clear and consistent instructions on approaching a certain activity in order to get the necessary result (for example, conventions). However, a process essay is more than just an explanation or instruction because it may include the writer’s personal commentaries, analytical notes, and other things that are not common for technical manuals and similar written communications. This type of paper may also be on a funny and humorous topic, even though it’s not that common for college assignments.

Even if it’s not always the case, a process essay is written under the assumption that, in the first place, the reader needs the information presented, and in the second one, the reader will use the acquired data to achieve his or her goal. The more relevant information a person can obtain from that kind of paper, the higher its overall quality is considered to be. Did the reader learn what they had wanted to by the end of the essay? Could a person achieve the necessary result using your instructions? These questions are important not to forget while writing a process essay, as the negative answers may result in a poor grade.

The preparation steps for this kind of assignment do not differ from those for most of the other papers you’re familiar with. Unlike an opinion essay, however, there’s no way to successfully get through the writing stage without spending enough time on research beforehand. To write a manual means to understand the topic perfectly, and acquiring the perfect understanding is exactly what you should be aiming at in the early stages of your work. Do not hesitate to use techniques like a mind map in order to find gaps in your knowledge before writing; teaching someone when your own understanding of the topic is far from perfect is the last thing you want in this situation.

How to Write a Process Essay: Outline

When it comes to an academic paper, even the simplest one, you can’t start with anything else but an introductory paragraph. Performing an information function, the latter gives the reader a basic idea of what exactly you’ll be writing about. If done right, it drastically increases the chance that a person reading your manual will actually finish it instead of turning his or her attention to something else halfway through. As many body paragraphs follow the introductory part as you need to cover the topic exhaustively. After them, the conclusion comes.

In this regard, there’s nothing special about a process essay – you’ve probably written several other essays with this very structure by this point. Here are several things to keep in mind:

  • Working on the introduction, explain to the reader why you think that your approach to solving this particular issue is better than any other one. It may be easier, quicker, more effective, or all at once. Never try to give him or her intentionally false information because it will only make things more difficult for everyone involved.
  • When writing the main body paragraphs, stick to the concept of one paragraph per point/idea. Do not hesitate to familiarize the person reading the paper with your reasoning behind the various steps, but keep your text as short and concise as possible.
  • Compose the conclusion using the introduction and body as a reference without introducing new facts and details when the piece is almost done.

Don’t forget that the main purpose of writing this kind of paper is to provide your audience with helpful assistance and expertise. As an author, your goal is to make the attainment of THEIR goals feasible and achievable within a realistic time frame and without too many resources used.

How to Write a Process Essay In a Few Simple Steps

Determining your audience is the first step you should take before going to the writing part or even developing an outline. Who is your target audience, anyway? Do they possess at least basic knowledge of the topic you’re going to write about? How old are they? What skills do they have to have to follow your guidelines? Coming up with the right questions is essential to writing a great process essay, so please, take the first step seriously.

As soon as you have the answers that are both helpful for you and correct, proceed to the next step.

  1. Listing the materials and tools necessary. The reader is always thankful when you help them make a time-consuming activity a bit faster and easier to finish. Providing readers with a list of tools and materials they may use in order to reduce the amount of time required to achieve their goals is recommended.
  2. Composing an outline. Composing an outline means creating a plan that you’ll be following during your work. The step should be considered mandatory, even for those having a deep understanding of their topic from the very start, as relying only on what you remember makes it more difficult to keep your essay consistent. Having an outline also helps to cope with procrastination – as long as you know exactly what you should write today or tomorrow, getting to work shouldn’t require too much willpower. This, in turn, guarantees that you’ll start and finish your paper in time and will have enough time for editing and proofreading.
  3. Writing the introduction, body, and conclusion. We partially covered these steps earlier, but there are still things to talk about.

If you have difficulty in coming up with a good introduction, you may leave it for now and return later. While generally not recommended, this way of writing a process essay has helped some students to break the writer’s block in a simple and timely manner. The importance of a good start could hardly be overemphasized.

When writing a body paragraph, stick to one idea at a time. Since your paper is basically a manual, there’s a pretty good chance that the reader is not familiar with the topic you’ve chosen. Even basic and simple concepts, therefore, should be explained in detail. To make a process essay easier to read, use transition words at the beginning of a body paragraph. ‘With this in mind’, ‘at the present time’, ‘another key point’ are good but not the only examples of what writers call a transition word.

The conclusion is where you remind your readers what you’ve been trying to accomplish, as well as briefly repeat all the steps necessary for achieving the reader’s goal. Calling him or her to action is a possible option too, even though it’s not always a good idea. A call to action is a nice and simple way to finish an instruction, but the average student isn’t taught how to do it properly, so there’s always a risk of making things worse.

How to Write a Process Essay: Tips and Tricks

Choosing a topic that is too broad, you risk spending a lot of time on research just to find out that it’s almost impossible to write an exhaustive guide on the subject without drastically exceeding the word limit. On the contrary, a very narrow topic means you may discover that it’s problematic to reach the word count without adding a lot of unnecessary words, which will inevitably affect the paper’s overall quality. Aim for middle-ground whenever possible.

Show the reader what could go wrong on one step or another; tell him or her how to avoid that. The average manual is that it’s written on the assumption that the reader follows all instructions correctly, but a process review is more than just a technical manual. As an author and expert, you’re free to share your perspectives and concerns regarding the subject chosen. Just be sure not to do it without real need.

While writing a process essay, use sources that are both relevant and reliable. That way, you prove that the information you’ve used is confirmed by someone else. Moreover, you provide the reader with many references he or she could check and use later. To find relevant sources, open Google Scholar or any other scholarly search engine.

How to Write a Process Essay: Topics

As long as you don’t go too far, one topic is as good as another. If you like some activity, you can share a lot of valuable information about going right ahead and writing an essay about it! We, in turn, have prepared several topics you may find interesting.


  1. How to learn French, Spanish, Chinese, or any other foreign language.
  2. How to pick out a dog, cat, other pet.
  3. How to become a better listener.
  4. How to write an essay (some meta here!).
  5. How to choose the right online course.
  6. How to surprise a friend you’ve known for ten years.
  7. How to decorate your bedroom.
  8. How to start a formal letter.
  9. How to meditate in the morning.
  10.  How to improve your analytical skills (by writing a process essay, for example).

Humorous topics

  1. How to tell your cat you’ve eaten all its food.
  2. How to get drunk on non-alcoholic beer.
  3. How to make the whole world love Mexican tortilla soup?
  4. How to live on if the princess is in another castle.
  5. How to take a bath without water.
  6. How to build your own spaceship.
  7. How to come up with a humorous topic for a process essay.
  8. How to convince your friends that a burger’s not a burger without beetroot.
  9. How to trick your friends into giving a pizza with pineapples a try.
  10.  How to write the worst song in the world.

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