You’ve done argumentative and persuasive pieces, wove creative narratives, and bared your soul in personal papers. But now you’re facing a new challenge–the process essay. It is not the most challenging writing assignment, nor the most time-consuming or confusing. But if you’ve never done it before, it’s easy to lose points for missing the subtle details that make this essay stand out among others. To avoid pitfalls and score the highest mark on process writing, read on and follow our advice.
What Is a Process Essay?
A process essay is exactly what the name implies–a paper that details a process. You’ve seen this type of writing in every blog post with a title starting with “How to…”. In fact, this post you’re reading is also an example of this writing type.
What makes process essays different from other writing assignments?
- Only one outline makes sense. You must explain each step of the procedure to make it understandable and readable.
- Research may be minimal. If you choose a topic you’re familiar with, you can find helpful sources and complete the assignment fast.
- Hard writing style decisions are necessary. You can either write your essay in a passive voice or use second-person writing (i.e., you). Professors hate both options, so you must choose the lesser of two evils and get approval before you start writing.
- No persuasion is necessary. There can exist many ways to perform the process, but you only need to describe yours and present it as the only viable option without expanding your argumentation.
- Attention to detail is critical. You have to assume the reader has no prior knowledge of the process, so your essay must include all relevant details to make the goal achievable for the reader.
Do not treat this assignment lightly. The writing process develops multiple soft skills, including analytical and critical thinking, prioritization, instruction, communication, and more.
How to Start a Process Essay
Writing is merely a fraction of the work that goes into an essay. So before you let procrastination take hold and put off this assignment, take care of the prewriting steps instead. They won’t trigger writer’s block and instead help you deal with the fear of the blank page and save your time in the long run. We recommend three prewriting activities before you tackle the outline:
- Establish specific requirements. To score a high mark, you need to meet many requirements, including the word count, number of sources, formatting style, topic relevance, etc. If any instructions are unclear, talk to your professor or TA. Ideally, you need a grading rubric to direct your writing, so try to get it from your instructor.
- Choose the process essay topic. The prompt may not include the exact wording, but it usually holds action verbs (detail, explain, describe) and keywords you need to account for when developing your topic. Check out the suggested reading list if you’re at a loss where to start your search for a good idea.
- Find sources and research. Instead of looking for supporting evidence for your argument, with a process analysis essay, you need to find the best way to do something. Unless you’re an expert in the field, you’ll need at least a handful of relevant and credible references. Remember to use in-text citations and add the sources to the reference list, formatted according to the required style.
How to Flesh out the Process Essay Outline
Like most academic assignments, process essays work best with a straightforward three-part structure comprising introduction, body, and conclusion.
The opening of the process paper serves two goals: introduce the topic and explain its relevance. The hook and thesis statement are two mandatory parts of the essay introduction, although you may include some background information to flesh out the first passage. But avoid spelling out every step of the process in your thesis statement. Instead, highlight the importance of the topic for you and the reader. You can further emphasize relevance by describing the positive implications of fulfilling the actions. For example, hint that living on a budget can enable college students to travel abroad.
There’s usually only one logical way to order the body paragraphs, which makes writing a process essay easy. Each step of the process should have its dedicated section, though involved actions may take two or more passages. Choose the desired level of detail for each stage based on your essay word count, and keep the descriptions consistent. In the end, the body paragraphs without the introduction and conclusion should read like an instruction manual or a tutorial.
The final paragraph is a brief reiteration of the topic’s relevance (your thesis statement) combined with the highlights of the body paragraphs. You don’t need to rewrite the whole process essay in the conclusion, but you can emphasize that completing the described steps can help the reader achieve their goals. Suggestions for further application or other processes can serve as a memorable parting thought.
Post-writing Editing and Proofreading
A short break after the process essay is finished will make the post-writing routine smoother. First, reread the paper out loud and look for unreadable sentences, repetitions, illogical constructs, etc. Once you delete redundancies, remember to replace them with valuable information to keep up with the word count. Next, use Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or other proofreading software to eliminate errors and typos and add missing commas. Finally, format the essay according to style requirements and double-check your in-text citations and reference list to prevent unintentional plagiarism.
Practical Writing Process Tips
We’ve gone over how to write a process essay introduction, body, and conclusion. Now let’s zoom in on the little things that can make your writing even better:
- Check out a solid process essay example before writing. Pay attention to the writing style and steal word choice and phrasing to enhance your piece.
- Be generous with transitions. Include transitional phrases between steps to highlight the logical order and help the readers keep track of separate stages.
- Keep your paper consistent. Establish the terms early and use them throughout the essay. The same applies to verb tenses. If you choose the present tense, use it consistently in describing every step.
- Use simple words for clear meaning. Technical jargon and smart terms stolen from a thesaurus are more likely to confuse the reader than impress them.
- Add visual aids to your paper, if possible. Creating an infographic or a timeline can help readers better grasp your explanation, so use these tools if the professor allows it.
Types of Process Essays
Although most professors will not specify the exact types of process essays they want you to write, you will easily tell the difference using our guide:
- Directional essays. With these papers, you aim to explain the process to ensure the reader can perform the step-by-step instructions to achieve the desired result. For example, a recipe is a type of directional writing, as anyone can cook a meal by following instructions.
- Informational essays. In this type of process paper, you explain how something is done without expecting the reader to achieve the results. For example, someone may read a piece about building a space shuttle without expecting to complete a similar project.
Ideas for Writing a Process Essay
Most professors specify essay requirements, but some allow you to choose a process essay topic. If you’re that lucky, try to balance passion with realism. So pick an idea that excites you and the one you can confidently research within the deadline. Below you’ll find our shortlist of ten inspiring informational and directional ideas:
- How to plan your college term to submit every assignment on time
- How to live on a budget on campus
- How do self-driving cars work?
- How to develop healthy eating habits
- How to pay off student loans within five years of graduation
- How to build good sleeping habits in college
- How to write an impressive resume and CV
- How do photovoltaic panels produce electricity?
- How to balance classes, work, and social life
- How are smartphone cameras made?
Remember to pick a title that aligns with your class and curriculum. If you’re unsure about your choice, ask your TA or professor for approval and keep a couple of backup options at the ready in case your first choice gets rejected.
Not up to Writing a Process Essay?
At first glance, describing a process seems like the easiest thing. After all, it’s like giving unsolicited advice. But if your topic is expansive and complex, research can take more time than you have on your hands. Instead of risking your grade because of a simple process essay, get professional writing help. Our writers’ expertise spans dozens of classes and topics, and they can complete your assignment within a few short hours, giving you plenty of time for preview, revisions, and submission.
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