What is a process essay

Process essays are a popular choice as writing assignments and term papers, and the chances are good that everyone will have to write one or two at some point. Luckily they're not difficult to do, especially if you understand exactly what's required.

A process essay is a piece of writing that describes how something is done. It can either be a set of instructions to teach the reader how to do it or a general description intended to be informative. Either way the essay contains a number of elements. Here are the key parts of a process essay.


Like any other essay, process essays need an introduction to explain what the essay's purpose is. In this case it should explain the following:

  • What process is being described.
  • Why it's important. This might vary depending on what type of process essay it is. For example if it's telling people how to repair their own plumbing the importance is the money it can save.

The introduction has to be interesting, so the reader wants to learn more about the process being described. It should also be short - no more than one paragraph of five or six sentences - and shouldn't go into detail. You want the reader to be hooked into reading more to find out the details.


This is the main part of the essay, and it's here that you describe the process. It's important to be organized when you tackle this section. Don't start writing straight away; first research the process and make sure you understand it, then make a list of each step in the order they happen. This avoids errors later.

Next, describe each step in turn. If you're simply describing the process you just need to explain what happens, but if you're giving instructions you must tell your reader exactly how to carry out each step.

A common error in this section is to repeat words and phrases; "And then…" is a favorite mistake here. Try to vary your vocabulary as much as possible.


In your conclusion you should restate why it's important to understand the process. Although the conclusion should still be a single paragraph you have a bit more space than in the introduction. You can also use a few details from the main body.

A process essay is quite easy to write as long as you know the details of the actual process, and can also be genuinely useful. If you're assigned one make the most of it; even better if you can choose a process that interests you.