Process Essays

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Sometimes called procedural essays, a process essay or process analysis essay shows readers how to complete various tasks or accomplish some objective or other. When writing an essay of this type, the task you are providing instructions on should be broken down into a number of smaller, more manageable chunks. You should use language that is clear, precise and without ambiguity because this will help your readers to better understand the process you are describing.

Select a Process That Is Easy to Teach

Clearly, before beginning the essay, you need to decide on the process you are going to provide instructions on. This will allow you to focus on the important aspects of the process and how to achieve it. When it comes to choosing process essay topics, select one that is sufficiently complex to need instructions, yet sufficiently simple that it can be broken down into a few paragraphs describing the steps involved. If, for instance, you were providing instruction on how to write a research paper, the steps might include planning the research element e.g. collecting information from online sources, libraries, etc. and developing a thesis statement from your source material. Before you start writing, draw up a list of the process steps in the sequence they should be undertaken – this is the basic structure of a process essay.

Explaining the Process

In this paragraph, we will show you how to write a process essay. Start your essay with an introduction that lets your readers know what you are going to be describing and why this is important or why it might be beneficial to them. If you are explaining how to write a research paper, you might start by explaining that research projects are regular assignments allocated to high school, college and university students, so learning these skills at the earliest opportunity is an advantage. You should provide a rough outline of the required steps in your introductory paragraph so that your readers will understand what steps they need to take without going into too much detail at this stage.

Breaking the Topic Down

Every new paragraph in this type of “how to essay” should be devoted to one process step. Organize all the steps in sequential order – as they should be undertaken. Dividing an essay so that there is a separate section for each different step will additionally help your readers’ comprehension without confusing them. If, for example, you are explaining how a research paper should be written, you could devote a paragraph to describing how each aspect of the research should be handled – identifying primary sources, identifying secondary sources, testing the validity of sources, and combining sources to support your topic.

In the opening sentence of every paragraph in a process analysis essay, you should provide a general description of the step. For example, “Look for academic opinion in online databases and conventional libraries.” The remainder of the paragraph would then describe in more detail how that step should be performed and it would highlight any potential irregularity e.g., “You will need to ask your tutor for specific access if a source you require is in a database you cannot access.”

Keep Everything Simple

If you refer to any well-written process essay examples, you will see that you should try to avoid using vague terms and phrases that leave room for ambiguity. Although it is acceptable to start phrases with transitional words e.g. “then,” “next,” “once” and so on to put order on the steps as they relate to one another, you should avoid starting a number of consecutive sentences with the same words or phrases. This can make your instructions sound robotic and repetitive.

The Results Should Be Described

Bring your essay to a close with a concluding paragraph that describes the results of the process. Let your readers know what they should have accomplished from your instructions so that they can check to see if they have succeeded. To comply fully with the process essay definition, you should describe in one or two sentences how the end product can or should be used and how the reader can benefit from understanding the process.