Steps & Guidelines for Developing a Process Analysis Essay

Developing a successful process analysis requires careful planning and clear, simple steps.
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A process analysis either teaches the reader how to do something or helps them understand how something works. For example, a process essay could explain how a piece of automotive equipment is manufactured in a machine shop. You could also teach readers how to throw a curve ball with a baseball. Writing this type of essay sharpens your communication skills and your ability to distill and explain complex information.

1 Choosing a Process

The trickiest part of writing a process analysis is choosing a topic. Avoid a process that is too simplistic because it won't warrant an essay to teach it. Also, refrain from selecting a process that is so complex that you cannot cover the entire process clearly in the allowed space. A 5 to 7 step process is ideal for a college-level essay, and the process is one in which you possess a level of expertise or can research and teach easily.

2 Outline the Process Steps

Once you've chosen your process, you need to list and organize the steps. Be sure to include all preparation and clean-up steps, as they are still part of the process. Outlining will help you make sure you haven't forgotten any steps, and it will also give you an idea of how this process looks, step by step. For example, if you are teaching the reader how to build a bookcase, you would combine multiple steps that parallel one another, such as cutting all materials of the same length, so you can spend more time explaining the details of how they should fit together.

3 Craft an Effective Introduction

Just because you're writing a process analysis doesn't mean you don't need to hook the reader or not state your thesis. Open your essay with a reason or anecdote that illustrates why your process is important and worthy of an essay. Furthermore, your thesis statement for this paper is two-fold: you need to say what the process is and list each step involved. Remember that no matter what the process is, you cannot assume the reader has any prior knowledge of how to complete it.

4 Clarity Above All

Your first priority in a process essay is to be clear about how to complete each step. Use the second person point of view to keep your instructions direct. Choose simpler words and sentences whenever possible, and if one step seems too complicated for a simple explanation, break it into two steps to be sure your words cannot be interpreted in any way other than what you intend.

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."