Writing Well

“How to” Essays: Process Analysis

Take the following snap quiz (it's easy—there's only one question):

What, in your opinion, is the most reasonable explanation for the fact that Moses led the Israelites all over the place for 40 years before they finally got to the Promised Land?

Write Angles

If you're describing a circular process, such as the circulation of blood, break into the process at a logical point and follow it around to that point again. In the case of blood, for instance, it's reasonable to start and end with the heart.

Process analysis essays are directions. They explain how to do something, how something works, or how something happens. These essays present the steps in the process in chronological order, from first to last. Be sure to define any unfamiliar terms or concepts.

As you revise process analysis essays …

  1. Check the order of the steps to make sure you haven't skipped or repeated any.
  2. Add any necessary transitions, such as first, second, next, then, after, later, and finally.
  3. Try to sum up the results or benefits of the process.

The following process analysis essay explains how beer is made. What clues does the writer provide to make the steps easier to follow?

Bottom's Up

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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