What Is a Process Analysis Essay?

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  • Written By: Meghan Perry
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A process analysis essay is a paper that explains how to do something. There are two kinds of process analysis essays, explanatory and instructional. Three points to keep in mind when writing this type of essay are organization, use of detail, and use of transitions. It is important that the essay is easy for the reader to follow, whether it is instructional or explanatory. The use of second person narrative voice may be used in this type of essay as it usually directly addresses the readers.

An explanatory process analysis essay explains to the readers how something is done or analyzes the process of something. An example of this would be a paper about how a medical procedure is done. After reading the essay, the readers would understand how the process is completed but would not be able to do the procedure themselves. The essay explains but does not instruct.


An instructional process analysis essay, on the other hand, tells the readers how to do something using step-by-step directions. An example of this would be an essay about how to change a tire on a car. After reading the essay, readers should be able to complete the task themselves. One way to test the effectiveness of a process analysis essay is to either try to accomplish the task by going through the essay or having someone else go through the essay to see if the instructions are thorough enough for the task to be successfully completed. If they are not, then the writer will need to add more details or steps in order to make the essay complete.

One way to choose an effective topic for a process analysis essay is to write about something that is familiar — the writer should know a lot about the process being analyzed. The organization of a process analysis essay is almost always chronological. Generally, the essay opens with an introductory paragraph, which sets the tone for the rest of the essay and includes the thesis statement. The thesis should contain an overview of what process is going to be analyzed, as well as the significance of the analysis. The introduction should also entice the readers to continue reading.

The body of the essay should include each step of the process with at least one paragraph designated to each step. Depending on the complexity of the process, however, more than one paragraph may be needed. One of the most important things is to include a lot of detail while at the same time being as concise as possible. In other words, the essay shouldn't include unnecessary information but needs enough information so that the readers can accomplish the task the essay is explaining. One way to be as concise as possible is to include a lot of transitional words; this should help the paper flow smoothly from step to step.

The last paragraph should wrap up the process by summarizing the most important points and possibly restating the thesis. Additional steps should not be included in the conclusion. If that happens, then another paragraph should be added to the body of the essay.


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