How to Write a Great Process Essay

Otherwise Known as a How-To Essay

Following the Steps

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How-to essays, also known as process essays, are much like recipes: They provide instruction for carrying out a procedure or task. You can write a how-to essay about any procedure that you find interesting as long as your topic fits the teacher's assignment.

Start by Brainstorming

The first step in writing your how-to essay is brainstorming. Here are tips to help you:

  1. Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper to make two columns. Label one column "materials" and the other column "steps."
  2. Write down every item and every step you can think of that will be needed to carry out your task. Don't worry about trying to keep things in order yet. Just empty your head.
  3. Number your steps on your brainstorming page. Just jot a number beside each item/step. You may need to erase and scribble a few times to get the order right. It's not a neat process.

Create an Outline

First, determine the format required for your essay; ask your teacher if you are unsure. Your essay could contain a numbered list (like the one in the previous section), or it could be written as a standard narrative essay. If you are instructed to write a step-by-step without using numbers, your essay should contain all the elements of any other essay assignment, including an:

  • Introductory paragraph: the section that identifies the topic, arouses interest, and prepares the audience or readers for the development of the thesis
  • Body: the part of an essay that develops the main idea
  • Conclusion: the sentences or paragraphs that bring the essay to a logical end

Regardless of the essay format—whether your teacher allows for numbered paragraphs or sections or simply wants you to craft a narrative report—your outline should center on these three areas.

Creating the Essay

Your introduction will explain why your topic is important or relevant. For example, your paper about "How to Wash a Dog" would explain that dog hygiene is important for your pet's good health.

  1. Your first body paragraph should contain a list of necessary materials. For example: "The equipment you will need depends somewhat on the size of your dog. At the very minimum, you will need dog shampoo, a large towel, and a container large enough to hold your dog. And, of course, you will need a dog."
  2. The next paragraphs should contain instructions for following steps in your process, as enumerated in your outline.
  3. Your summary, or conclusion, explains how your task or process should turn out if it is done correctly. It may also be appropriate to restate the importance of your topic.

Topics to Write About

You may believe that you are not expert enough to write a process essay. This is not so. There are many processes that you go through every day that you can write about, including:

  • How to make a perfect paper airplane
  • How to dye your hair
  • How to wear makeup
  • How to survive a weekend with your family
  • How to play basketball
  • How to play (a popular video game)

The goal in this type of assignment is to show that you can write a well-organized essay and clearly explain to the reader how to do what you are instructing.

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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "How to Write a Great Process Essay." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Fleming, Grace. (2023, April 5). How to Write a Great Process Essay. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "How to Write a Great Process Essay." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).