How to Write a Process Essay; Guidelines, Tips, and Examples

29 April 2020

It’s one of the less manageable types of writing that I’ve ever come across. Writing a process essay is not a hassle. It’s as simple as putting down on paper how you would explain any concept to someone. It could be a baby, a friend, or a colleague at work. I’m pretty sure you’ve done one of these things before.

So, when your instructor gives you a process essay assignment, don’t panic. You’ve already got what it takes to write a good one. But who wants good, right? That’s why we’ve compiled this article to share with you the process of writing a process essay (pun intended). Besides, you’ll also learn useful tips and see some examples of process essays from other students.

What is a Process Essay?

A process essay is a step by step guide on how to accomplish a particular task. You organize the steps so that at the end of the procedure, the reader can be able to perform the specific job. The reader knows how to do something and hence achieves their goal.

The two types below answer what is a process essay better.

1. How-To-Do an Action Process Essay 

It is a process essay that explains how to do an activity. Clear instructions for guidance throughout the procedure are essential when writing one of these. It always ends with a call to action.

2. How Something-Works Process Essay

It is a process essay that explains how something functions or operates. The article seeks to explain the mechanism or the principles by which something accomplishes performing their tasks. Unlike in the above type, there is no call to action here.

Ultimately the two types of essays seek to give understanding to the audience so that they can accomplish knowing or doing something.

Guidelines for Writing a Process Essay

The following are the guidelines that you need to write an excellent process essay:

1. Know Your Audience

You need to take time and know who will be the readers of your process essay. You will have a clear conception of what they want to know from your process essay. Their knowledge would also determine the level of language you would use. The audience would decide if you would go to the advanced information about the topic or not. 

When your audience does not have a basic understanding of the topic, you have to supply background information about the subject. For such an audience, you can always spare them the advanced procedures and details for the future. Importantly also limit digressing, such as to expound on the relationships of the steps to other things. 

Another aspect of understanding the information is making out what they would do with the knowledge. The environment also determines the accessibility of the tools and materials you use top elaborate the ideas in the process essay. If the audience cannot access the materials try searching for the substitutes that work best with them.

Simple language is relative in this case. If you are writing to explain how an engine works, for instance, to a chef taking a driving class, you will not use similar words as when writing to a graduate mechanical engineer audience. Use simple basic terminology for the less knowledgeable audience and preserve jargon for experts.

2. Select a Relevant Topic

When you want to inform the audience how to do something, it should a common knowledge. People do not give time to read process essay topics they already know. They find them monotonous. If the goal is well known to the audience, then hint in the subject or introduction of new tips in their procedure. Let the audience feel you are proposing a new way with new results.

3. Understand Your Process 

You cannot give the audience a refined process and yet do not understand it yourself. A great deal of research is thus needed. Read widely on every detail and make notes on what you can think you may forget. It is misleading to recommend a process you haven’t mastered.

a) Sometimes Understanding Is Not Enough

Understanding how you write may not be enough. There is a special kind of confidence that comes with explaining something you have done practically. As such, you need to do the process and authenticate the results posted by the browsers. 

By doing the procedure personally, a lot of things pop out to your knowledge. For instance, you may realize that the processes you got from the research weren’t accurate. They had assumed that everyone has an essential requirement, which isn’t correct. It is from practice that you gain insight into the possible errors. As such, you can understand what to emphasize and what details to scrape off.

Performing the practice also allows you to be objective in illustrating. Can you imagine the impact of giving images of you interacting with the process to the audience? They will be more than willing to embrace your way. It will also save you the headache of finding images and clips to illustrate each step. 

Components of a Process Essay

A process essay needs a grasping introduction, an engaging body section, and a conclusion that bids for action. 

Below are the expounded parts of a process essay.

1. The Opening Paragraph

A hook in the process essay consists of arresting the audience’s attention to your proposed approach. They should see the comparative benefit of completing the process your way and not using the other methods.

a) Tell your Reader the Time Frame

Time is always a limited resource. Inform the audience how much time they will take accomplish something using your process. Show why your process saves time by pointing out to events that can run simultaneously. You will have won them by your procedure or make them consider it later.

Giving the time frame increases clarity and organization to the audience. The audience avoids inconveniences by gathering the tools and the materials for the process earlier. Give the process breakdown and show what will be taking place in each part of the time. They will meanwhile attend to other things.

Sometimes your process could be a new one. You will need to give a brief background on its adoption. The audience will thus see what necessitated its invention. If you can show them why your procedure gives exemplary results, then they will adopt it.

The above is the thesis statement. When you convince the audience your way is the best, and then you will have arrested their attention to read through. Remember, this is a decisive moment when the reader decides whether to continue reading or not.

2. The Body Section

After hooking the audience, it is high time to offer details of what you promised. Explore what the audience can understand logically through the steps of the process. Before the end of the last step, they should be able to follow it.

The following tips will make your essay more compelling, use them to develop your body section.

a) List The Tools and Materials

You are explaining the process of doing something to real, not hypothetical persons. You should be aware people think within the boundaries of the provided instructions. So before you begin the process, highlight the materials the reader needs to achieve the end practically. These tools and materials should be available in their environment.

The tools needed for the process need to be correctly labeled or tagged. For instance, the audience needs to know the naming code for all spanners required to open a motorcycle engine.

Moreover, the estimates of quantities of the materials needed for the process is essential. Being productive without waste is the goal here. Give the audience the capacity, number of pieces, weight, degrees of heat, height, length, or any means of estimating correctly.

b) Use Illustrations

Sometimes the audience may not easily understand the listed materials. For instance, you would not tell an untraveled resident of the Mojave Desert about grating radishes to make a stew. What are radishes? Use colored images of the materials the audience should have to get going throughout the procedure. Else you can sketch tools that are well-labeled to help the audience understand. If you are able, you need to provide links to videos of the technical aspects of the process.

c) Allocate a Paragraph for Every Step     

Coherency in explaining the steps is the goal in a process essay. Each paragraph in the body should contain a single step. Never be tempted to combine several steps in one section even when they are short. There are higher chances of the reader overlooking a crucial step.

Discuss every step with the attention it requires. Never be jumpy in your ideas as you would confuse the reader who tries connecting the dots in your step-by-step guideline. The other end is being too brief and leaving the reader making assumptions when practicing the process.

When the reader fails to achieve their desired goal, they cast the blame on you. They would no longer have anything to do with a process that does not live up to its claim.

d) Explain Your Process Step-By-Step 

Your goal is to move with the attention of the audience, leaving no room for unanswered questions. Describe the results in every step of the process. Illustrate it using colored images since some people may grasp visual images more than understand your expressive power.

Similarly, describe the end product of what they should expect after following the process well. The description should appeal to the five senses. Let them know the color, texture, and taste of the end product. If there sounds that accompany the process, mention them too. The audience will thus see the process as less abstract.

Important to consider is the results of the flaws in the process. Point out what they will achieve if they overlook a step. Be keen to inform them of the steps that will result in irreversible errors. Give the audience no room to mess up in accomplishing their task.

Lastly, answer the what-if question in the mind of the audience. Inform them of the results for varying the conditions. Show them what they can change at will and the varied results for using substitute materials. The audience will feel your way appreciates their creativity.

e) Keep It Short

The audience will need shortened information for easy grasping. Brief content convinces even the most experienced users how to follow your procedure. Similarly, first-time users will read your article and understand how to perform the activity you’re recommending.

However, you should be careful when following the brevity rule lest you overlook important details. The best way to avoid such is to break down the steps before you start writing. Ignoring a crucial aspect will raise questions and make the audience doubt your credibility.

f) Avoid First Person Point of View

The use of first-person pronouns lessens the declarative power of instructions in a process essay. Instead, stick to the second-person and third-person tone of teaching by using words like “it” and “they.” 

Using 2nd-person voice increases the chances of the reader trusting your instructions. Nonetheless, you can use the first-person when necessity dictates; an excellent example is when showing the reader how you did something. 

g) Address the Possible Complications

Safety is vital to the audience. You need to state the effects of every step they take rightly or wrongly. For instance, if there is a hazard or pain such as bright light, a chemical spill, getting burned, or even an injury point it out. They will gladly accept your proposed procedure, knowing you care for them.

Stating hazards would go hand in hand with the recommendations for the protective gear. Dressing for the occasion is very important in every step. Nobody would want to ride on a storm to accomplish anything. They would need to repeat the process later, so help them live after each attempt by ensuring their safety.

h) Use Simple Language and Explain Uncommon Words

You may try to be simple, but the diction may not have any other way when writing a process. Define what you mean by such words in the beginning or beside the paragraphs. The audience knows what to expect when the vocabularies appear before the introduction. However, when defined beside the steps, you provide an easy time to refer. All in all, both create a solid frame of reference.

i) Use Active Voice

When giving procedural instruction, as it is with process essay, the recommendation is using active voice. The following are some of the disadvantages when you use the passive voice in the process essay:

  • A passive voice uses more words. Hence you cannot express the steps concisely
  • The clarity of thoughts is also affected
  • The passive voice distances the audience from the action or ideas
  • The reader uses additional effort to comprehend the process

Life would be boring without alternatives. Use passive voice sparingly in the strictest sense. Thus you will use passive voice sparingly if it is the only way to accomplish the purpose.

j) Use Transition Words Effectively

A process essay is a chronological order of steps to accomplishing something, right? The audience should see and feel the smooth flow of the process. The end of every step should be ushering them to another one. There will be no temptation to look for the previous steps to internalize the finished part of the process.

 Ensure you achieve a smooth flow of activities throughout the process. To illustrate the chronology of events, you can use transitional words such as, in the meantime, until, by the time, whenever, before, after, without delay, to begin with, occasionally, about, among many others. Thus the reader will be able to see the sequence of unfolding steps. 

k) Tell Your Reader What to Do with The Final Product

It is always good to state what to with the end product. The reader may follow the instructions out of curiosity, and achieve the end product of the process but can do nothing to it. To avoid such a scenario, inform them who can use it when, how, and why. For instance, if you are teaching chefs on a foreign dish, you need to include brief usage literature at the end.

3. The Conclusion Section

You need to conclude the process essay in style too. Reiterate to the audience the purpose of the process here. Mention briefly why you chose that particular approach to accomplish the task. Next, highlight the essential steps in the process and finish with a call to action.

As mentioned above, the call to action only applies to the how-to-do action process essay. The call to action usually invites the audience to try out your proposed way. You can also encourage the audience to give feedback on its applicability and further improvement.

Proofreading Your Process Essay

Never should you hand over the process without proofreading. There is more to proofreading than correcting grammar errors as a result of typing or wrong contextual use. While proofreading, check out whether the order of the steps has practical relevance. Ensure these are the steps you would follow when dared to perform the task.

Proofreading is crucial. It helps to recognize shoddily framed steps and details omitted. 

Correct these errors and reread to ensure you achieve clarity.

Need Help Writing a Process Essay?

If you got this far, you must have found this guide quite helpful. Or did you just scroll to the bottom? LOL. Anyway, writing a process essay isn’t that much of a challenge. However, you may still need help writing a process essay. If this is the case, we’ve got you covered. 

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