List of Topics for How-To Essays

Choosing the right topic is critical to success

Making a pizza
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Your first challenge in writing a how-to essay is deciding on a topic. If you're like many students, you might feel as though you don't know anything well enough to teach others. But that's not true! All people have something that they can do so well that they don't even think about how to do it anymore—they just do it.

Choosing the Right Topic

When you read over the list below you will realize that you do know many things in depth, well enough to teach. Typically, your inspiration will be based on lateral thinking. For example, from the list below, you may decide to write an essay on how to cook a Scottish egg after you see "Crack an egg" in the list. Or you may decide to write about how to make an Excel spreadsheet with all of your homework listed, after seeing "Organize your homework" on the list. 

Narrow your choices to a few topics, and then brainstorm for a few minutes about each topic. Determine which one has the most potential because it can be divided into five to 10 clear paragraphs that you can explain well.

Writing Tips

Some topics are easier than others to explain. Straightforward processes versus ones with lots of contingencies will be much less complicated to write out, for instance. If you find that you've chosen a topic that's just too broad, pick one portion of it to explain. Remember, you want your reader to be able to follow your instructions to successfully complete the process.

In your drafting, err on the side of too much detail and description rather than too little. (It's easier to cut material that you don't need than to add in it later.) If you're not allowed to use images with your instructions, choosing a topic that is aided by visuals makes writing the instructional process much more challenging, so take your assignment parameters into consideration as you choose what to write about.

If you know your topic so well that it comes naturally to you, it may be tough to write instructions for a beginner who has no knowledge of the topic, because you forget how much you didn't know when you first started. Have a partner try out your instructions during the drafting or revision phase (or both) to see what you've left out or what isn't explained clearly enough.

How-To Topics for a Process Essay 

  1. Raccoon-proof your campsite
  2. Make an obstacle course for squirrels
  3. Set a table
  4. Make a pet costume
  5. Earn $100
  6. Start a band
  7. Make a piñata
  8. Make an omelet
  9. Milk a cow
  10. Start beekeeping
  11. Read palms
  12. Make a quilt
  13. Wash a car
  14. Decorate a bedroom
  15. Make a podcast
  16. Burn a CD
  17. Start a recycling program
  18. Collect stamps
  19. Clean a bedroom
  20. Make a pizza
  21. Make a volcano
  22. Organize your homework
  23. Play the guitar
  24. Make a sock puppet
  25. Make a doll dress
  26. Write a letter to the editor
  27. Write a complaint
  28. Plan a party
  29. Plant a tree
  30. Create a cartoon character
  31. Improve your spelling
  32. Bake a layer cake
  33. Change a tire
  34. Drive a stick shift
  35. Make a Christmas stocking
  36. Learn to dance
  37. Play chess
  38. Do a magic trick
  39. Go bird watching
  40. Make a music video
  41. Make a candle
  42. Make soap
  43. Paint a picture
  44. Create art with crayons
  45. Create a web page
  46. Stay safe on the Internet
  47. Write a song
  48. Write a poem
  49. Make a handbag
  50. Tie a scarf
  51. Mow the lawn
  52. Make a hamburger
  53. Make pancakes
  54. Make a pillow
  55. Play football
  56. Make a sculpture
  57. Make a lamp
  58. Make shadow puppets
  59. Make a box
  60. Care for pets
  61. Build a tree house
  62. Play tag
  63. Play hide and seek
  64. Paint fingernails
  1. Make homemade slippers
  2. Tie macramé knots
  3. Make a sandwich
  4. Make chocolate milk
  5. Make hot chocolate
  6. Make a pot of coffee
  7. Make a milkshake
  8. Braid hair
  9. Sell old toys
  10. Skateboard
  11. Eat crab legs
  12. Become a vegetarian
  13. Make a salad
  14. Design a jack-o-lantern
  15. Ride a horse
  16. Race turtles
  17. Catch lightning bugs
  18. Make a wildflower bouquet
  19. Cut paper dolls
  20. Eat an ice cream cone
  21. Change a diaper
  22. Make fruit punch
  23. Make a campaign poster
  24. Frame art
  25. Make a fake tattoo
  26. Interview a celebrity
  27. Catch a fish
  28. Make a snowman
  29. Make an igloo
  30. Make a fan
  31. Write a newsletter
  32. Crack an egg
  33. Make a necklace
  34. Tie a necktie
  35. Ride the subway
  36. Walk like a model
  37. Ride a motorcycle
  38. Pitch a tent
  39. Find something you've lost
  40. Curl your hair
  41. Saddle a horse
  42. Make a sandcastle
  43. Bob for apples
  44. Go hiking
  45. Apply for a job
  46. Draw stick figures
  47. Open a bank account
  48. Learn a new language
  49. Ask for a later curfew
  50. Behave at a fancy dinner
  51. Ask somebody out
  52. Pose for a picture
  53. Wake up in a good mood
  54. Send Morse code messages
  55. Make a kite
  56. Hem your jeans
  57. Pitch a fastball
  58. Be a ghost hunter
  59. Make string art
  60. Fly alone
  61. Shave
  62. Mop a floor
  63. Peel an apple
  1. String popcorn
  2. Remix a song
  3. Walk a tightrope
  4. Stand on your head
  5. Find the Big Dipper
  6. Wrap a gift
  7. Roast a marshmallow
  8. Clean a window
  9. Make a campfire
  10. Have a yard sale
  11. Create a carnival in your yard
  12. Make balloon animals
  13. Plan a surprise party
  14. Wear eye makeup
  15. Invent a secret code
  16. Recognize animal tracks
  17. Train a dog to shake hands
  18. Make a paper airplane
  19. Swat flies
  20. Pull a tooth
  21. Create playlists
  22. Play rock, paper, scissors
  23. Hula dance
  24. Floss your teeth