Process Essay Outline Templates

What does a recipe for a Thai green curry have in common with a step-by-step guide for how to fix a broken faucet? And what to both of those have to do with a description of how a bill becomes a law, or how plants metabolize sunlight into food? All of these are examples of process essays—essays that explain how to do something or how something is done.

A process essay in its most basic form tells the reader how to do something—anything–outlining each step in the process. It may be helpful to think of all “how to” process essays as recipes. You begin by providing background information and general overview of the dish. Then you list the necessary ingredients. Finally, you describe the process in as much detail as possible.

The “how to” process essay can be considered a type of technical writing. Being technical does not mean that process essays do not require creativity. On the contrary, a process analysis essay can be captivating and fun to read. A process analysis essay is informative, instructional, and descriptive. Most process essays are highly descriptive, calling up you—the writer—to use vivid imagery if you cannot supplement your writing with visual aids. By the end of the perfect process essay, the reader will be able to understand how a robot is built or how to make malai kofta, even if they do not actually intend to do either one. In a simple process essay, you can even use the second person familiar as I am doing in this process essay about writing process essays!

A process analysis essay is more formal than the “how to” process essay in that the student will want to avoid using second person familiar point of view. Also with a process analysis essay, the goal is to describe the method or process by which something is done but not necessarily to instruct the reader. A process analysis essay is your opportunity to explicate complex or abstract processes, not because the reader is going to execute the process but wants to understand how something works. When you write a process analysis of how plants perform photosynthesis, you are not instructing the reader in how they can turn sunlight into food—you are showing the reader that you understand the process well enough to explain it in writing. And that is the job of a process analysis essay.

Although not an argumentative essay, a process analysis essay should leave the reader thinking, “Oh so that’s how they do it.” A process analysis essay inspires appreciation for how an item is made or shows the reader a new way of tackling an old problem. In some cases, a process analysis essay persuades the reader to go out there and try the process you just described.

In fact, you are reading a process analysis essay right now (how’s that for a metamoment?). The difference between a process essay and a process analysis essay will become clearer to you later when we give you examples of process essays and process analysis essays. First, let’s get through the basics.

How to Write a Process Analysis Essay

Each person will have a different writing process, but all writing starts with an idea. The MIT Comparative Media Studies department suggests four main steps to the writing process: prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. However, I believe there are five main steps to the writing process, starting with brainstorming.

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Outline
  3. Rough draft
  4. Revise to Final Draft
  5. Rewrite
  1. Brainstorm

Before writing a process analysis essay, a prewriting stage helps you brainstorm and collect your thoughts. The writer will start by asking questions like:

  1. When was this process invented? If you are writing a process analysis essay on making paper, you might need to research ancient Chinese and Egyptian paper-making methods before proceeding to contemporary pulp mills.
  2. Who was the first person to use this process? Explaining the process Marconi used to build a radio will enhance your essay on the process of building a radio receiver.
  3. Is this process controversial, and why? A process analysis essay will have an element of intrigue if you can find a point of controversy in the process. By highlighting the controversy in your process analysis essay, readers will be drawn into understanding why the process is or was controversial. For example, you could write a process essay on how to overthrow the government. Usually overthrowing the government is considered treasonous, which is why a process essay about the subject will be fun to read. However, Arianna Huffington wrote a whole book about the subject—in what can be considered a long process analysis essay.
  4. Are there alternative processes? Remember there are at least 11 ways to cook an egg. When writing a process essay, consider what approach your target audience is most likely to understand. Alternatively, you can consider informing an audience about a new or alternative method of doing a familiar process—like cooking an egg.
  5. Who is your audience? One of the most important steps in any essay writing process is knowing your audience. Is the reader someone who will actually carry out the actions in your process? If so, your descriptions need to include detailed descriptions and images if possible. However, if the goal of the process analysis essay is to inform a reader about how something is done, then the tone and style of the essay will be different.
  6. Is the process easy or hard, and does it require prior knowledge, experience, or preparation? Understanding your audience will help you know whether the process requires prior experience or knowledge.
  7. How long does the process take?
  8. Why is the process important?

You do not need to think about or answer all of these questions but the brainstorming process will help improve your process analysis essay. After brainstorming you will feel fueled up and armed with knowledge, eager to process your thoughts in writing.

  1. Outline

After brainstorming, you can start to sketch the skeleton of your essay in an outline. Visually oriented writers can use clustering or mind mapping techniques. Verbally oriented writers may opt for the standard Roman numeral formal outline. Taking the time to prepare an outline will make the actual essay writing easier, and will also improve the structure of your final draft.

  1. Rough Draft

Preparing a rough draft is when you need to shut off that inner editor. Stop censoring yourself. Following the structure of the outline you created in Step 2, write as it comes to you without worrying about making each sentence perfect. Even if you are really pressed for time, allowing your brain and mind to flow freely at this stage will ensure that your process analysis essay gets done on time because you will not have run out of things to say before you reach your page count.

  1. Revise to Final Draft

Now you can invoke your inner editor and revise that rough draft by paying attention to grammar problems, problems staying on topic, and anything that comes in the way of making your process analysis essay perfect.

  1. Rewrite

Not necessarily part of every process analysis essay, you may need to rewrite some sections of the final draft if you realize you have made a mistake or if you have new information you need to include in the original process analysis.

Process Analysis Essay Format

Chances are if you have been asked to write a process essay for an English composition or technical writing assignment, you are going to want to include an introduction, body, and conclusion. Although some process analysis essays will follow a traditional essay format with an introduction, body, and conclusion, not all do. Let’s assume you have to follow a traditional essay format with three essential parts: an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  1. Introduction

If you want the reader to get past the first few words of your essay without falling asleep, you need a strong introduction. The introduction to a process essay will grab the reader’s attention by claiming why the process you are describing is important. In the introduction, you might want to provide the background information such as the history of the process, the controversies surrounding it, or the historical figures that popularized the method you are about to describe.

For example, if you are writing a process essay about making a Thai green curry, you would start out by saying that it is important to understand the process of making the curry in order to get the most flavorful and authentic dish possible. If you are writing a longer process essay, it might be useful to include background information such as what part of Thailand green curry comes from, or what kind of rice or other dishes to serve with a green curry.

A good example of a brief introduction to a process essay can be seen in this essay on how paper is made. Notice how the author mentions the first machine made paper in the introduction.

The introduction to a process essay can also serve as a sort of overview for the reader, which gives a snapshot of things to come. For example, you would tell the reader, “I am going to show you how to make a Thai green curry starting with the ingredients you will need, how to prepare them, and how to cook the dish in just under one hour.”

A process analysis essay is not necessarily as thesis-driven as analytical essays or argumentative essays. You should, however, come up with a central idea to focus a process analysis essay. Some process analysis essays can include theses that reflect the most essential steps in the process. However, be careful of clumsy thesis statements that attempt to summarize the main steps in the process. For example, “The process of building a doll house begins with gathering the materials, and then involves meticulous attention to detail before being patient and allowing the paint to dry.” It would be better to condense a thesis statement such as: “Build a doll house involves patience and attention to detail.”

  1. Body

The body is the meat of the matter in a process analysis essay. In the body of a process analysis essay, the writer will often stick to a chronological list of steps in the process. One of the best things about a process analysis essay versus other types of academic essays is that a process analysis essay already has an internal logic. You are showing the reader how to get from point A to point B by following a set of steps, or informing the reader about the successive steps in a technical process such as how photosynthesis works.

Notice how in the article about photosynthesis, the author does not list the steps in the process using numbers, whereas the article about how paper is made does use numbers. There are no rules about whether you need numbers, but starting each body paragraph with an ordinal number like “First this,” and “Second, this,” helps to guide the reader through the process analysis.

  1. Conclusion

The conclusion of a process essay will offer the reader any additional information about the process. In the conclusion, the writer might want to suggest ideas for further reading, summarize or reiterate main points, or describe what happens next after the process has been complete.

Process Analysis Sample Essay Topics

  • The process whereby a private organization becomes publically traded.
  • How to clean a bathroom.
  • How make a perfect soft-boiled egg.
  • The process by which an airplane takes off.
  • How to build a robot.
  • How anyone can develop leadership skills.
  • How a nurse should transfer a patient.
  • How to become a pharmacist.
  • How to manage time and avoid procrastination.
  • How to apply for an Indian visa.
  • The process by which a bill becomes a law.
  • How a tree becomes paper.
  • How to file for bankruptcy.
  • How to repot a houseplant.
  • How photosynthesis works.
  • What is the process of DNA replication?
  • The Venetian glassblowing process.
  • How to overcome fear of public speaking.
  • How to manage a large Photoshop library.
  • The process of analyzing a work of literature.
  • The process of treating a disease.
  • The process of psychotherapy.
  • How to apply for citizenship in the United States.
  • How to appeal a court’s decision in the state of New Mexico.
  • The brewing process.

Process Analysis Essay Sample Outline

I.  Introduction

A.  Archaeologists believe that beer might be responsible for civilization itself.

B.  Beer is 9000 years old, with the first examples being rice beer from China.

C.  Thesis: The process of brewing beer is a three-stage process, involving the germination of grain, fermentation, and maturation.

II.  Malting: Beer begins as a sprout.

A.  Brewing beer starts by taking a grain and malting it to bring out the sugars.

B.  The malting process is like germination, in that it starts the growth cycle in the seed.

C.  To make beer, the brewer needs to stop the germination cycle before the seed begins to sprout but after the seed releases fermentable sugars.

III. Fermentation: The magic of yeast.

A.  The difference between wild yeast and pitched yeast.

B.  Yeast eats sugar and converts sugar into alcohol

C.  Beer begins to acquire its frothy appearance.

IV.  Maturation: Entering flavor country.

A.  After the beer ferments, it is potable and has some alcoholic content but might not be palatable or tasty.

B.  Now is the time to add hops and other adjuncts to improve the flavor of the beer.

C.  Some beers, especially lagers using bottom-fermenting yeast, need to be matured for long periods of time before reaching peak flavor.

V.  Conclusion

A.  The process of brewing beer is simple but to do it well requires skill and practice.

B.  The process of making beer is similar to the process of making bread.

Process Analysis Essay Example – Brewing Beer

With the first evidence of beer being brewed 9000 years ago, archaeologists believe that beer might be responsible for civilization itself. Beer is essentially liquid bread: the transformation of grains like rice, millet, and barley into a consumable and nutritious product. The process of brewing beer is in some ways similar to the process of making bread, which is why beer can be considered liquid bread. The process of brewing beer is a three-stage process, involving the germination of grain, fermentation, and maturation.

The first stage of the brewing process is germinating the grain. Germination refers to the initiation of the seed growth cycle. Typically this involves soaking or saturating the grain with water to encourage the seeds to grow. To brew beer, the germination process needs to be stopped before the seed starts to sprout. At this critical stage in the germination process, the seeds of the grain will be filled with fermentable sugars and can be considered a malted grain. The grain most commonly used in beers throughout the world now is barley, because barley has a high amount of fermentable sugars. Whatever grain is used, the brewer will need to steep the malted grain in hot water to create a sweet liquid called wort. The product is now ready for the next stage of the brewing process, during which wort is transformed into beer.

The second stage of the brewing process is fermentation, during which the malted grain is exposed to yeast. From 9000 years ago until relatively recently, little was known about the role yeast played in the brewing process. The malted grain seemed to magically transform itself into a fizzy brew known by many names likeöl, or ale. Finally in the 19th century, Louis Pasteur peered through a microscope and discovered yeast. Pasteur noticed that these strange microorganisms, the yeast, consume sugars and convert their starches into alcohol. Yeast is responsible for the chemical transformation of sugar into alcohol, the most critical component of the brewing process. In the old days, fermentation occurred with airborne yeast but modern brewers add specific strains of yeast to encourage fermentation. Fermentation causes the liquid bread –the wort—to be transformed into a frothy alcoholic beverage that can now be called beer.

The third stage in the brewing process is maturation. Although technically the beer can be consumed during the second stage, it will not necessarily taste good. The third stage of the brewing process ensures the beer will be palatable. During the maturation stage of the brewing process, the brewer will add hops or other ingredients to improve the flavor of the beer. The hops and other ingredients can be added while the beer is still fermenting, and also after the yeast has consumed all the fermentable sugars and fermentation has ended. Some beers, especially lagers using bottom-fermenting yeast, need to be cellared for long periods of time before reaching peak flavor—which can almost be considered a fourth stage in the brewing process. However, not all beer needs to be matured or lagered for such great lengths of time. The level of creativity used at this stage of the brewing process is one reason why each beer tastes different from the next.

The three stages of the brewing process are roughly similar to the process of making wine. The main difference between beer and wine is that a beer is made of fermented grains like rice or barley, and a wine is made of fermented fruit like grapes. The process of brewing beer is simple but to do it well requires skill and practice.


Hopefully by now you understand what a process essay is and how to write one. Just remember, there are two types of process essays: the how-to style in which you describe the process in an instructional manner similar to technical writing or DIY guides, and the process analysis essay, which is more formal in tone. A process analysis essay encourages you to consider all stages of a process like brewing beer or how a bill becomes a law, and to explain the steps of that process to your audience. If you need further help with any stage of your writing process, be sure to consult a writing tutor who can help you.

Latest APA Format (6th edition)

How to Write a Perfect Process Essay. (2017, May 5). Retrieved from

Latest MLA Format (8th edition)

"How to Write a Perfect Process Essay." Student Network Resources Inc, 5 May. 2017. Web. 8 March 2018.

Latest Chicago Format (16th edition)

Student Network Resources Inc. "How to Write a Perfect Process Essay." (accessed March 8, 2018).

Aiming for the big ‘A’ on that next essay? Well guess what—winging it without an essay outline is just not an option!

By now, you’ve probably made plans in one form or another. You’ve marked quizzes and paper due dates on a calendar. Maybe you’ve put together a surprise birthday party for your friend. Thinking about setting a wedding date with your significant other? Now you’re really talking about planning.

But why do we plan? What makes us set a schedule for a series of events ahead of time? In this post, I’ll answer these questions and focus on why outlining your papers is a vital part of the writing process.

Then you’ll get the chance to access some awesome essay outline templates to help you start writing a well-planned and strongly organized paper that wows your professor.

Planning Saves Lives … or Grades

Okay, so your freshman analysis paper on gender roles in 50 Shades of Grey may not win a Pulitzer or change anybody’s life. But if you don’t outline your paper, you’re probably heading for a crash.

Speaking of crashes, think about something you probably do on a daily basis, driving—or riding in—a car. A lot of planning went into that machine to make it work and get you safely from point A to point B.

If the engineers hadn’t carefully blueprinted all the working parts and how they fit together, then that car wouldn’t run at all. Essays are similar. An unplanned essay that isn’t outlined usually won’t pass your professor’s inspection and just gets you nowhere.

An essay outline denotes how you’ll structure your paper. You can (and should!) make changes along the way. But you want to get everything written down so that you can refer to the outline while you’re writing your rough draft.

If you start out with a good idea of how your paper will function and transition between ideas and paragraphs, then you’ll stay on track and avoid writing yourself into a corner.

Beware the corners—this is what happens when you get to a point in your paper and feel like you have run out of ideas or have no place else to go. Don’t let this happen to you—plan ahead!

Got It–But How Do I Start?

Good time management skills definitely don’t hurt. But just like your paper won’t write itself, your essay is going nowhere if you don’t sit down and start working on that outline.

But maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve composed an outline, and some forms are better than others. No worries—instead of starting from scratch, we’ve got you covered with these templates. You just have to fill in the blanks and keep moving forward!

That said, it’s a good idea to think about the process behind writing a paper before moving forward with your outline. Most papers—like most cars—have the same basic working parts.

You usually need a thesis statement in your introductory paragraph, body paragraphs that follow a logical order and support that thesis, and a conclusion that wraps it all up.

And though most essay have those same working parts, there are different types of essays. Each one requires a different approach to outlining. So without further ado …

7 Super-Awesome Essay Outline Templates

1. Analytical essay outline

Download the template!

This outline template can help you pick apart a topic and support your thesis so well that your professor’s jaw will drop. An analytical essay isn’t a summary—it requires you to concentrate on how a book or poem was written, why a song was composed, what themes are prevalent in a movie, and why that matters.

You come up with an answer and then explain why you’re right. This template covers the basics and narrows the focus, so you can write a killer thesis statement and use strong evidence to support your claim.

2. Argumentative essay outline

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Nearly all college students will write an argumentative essay, so steel yourself and get ready to create a powerful outline. In this type of essay, you’ll try to persuade your readers that your thoughts on a given topic are the right ones.

But unlike a persuasive essay, you’ll have to do some solid research and back up your ideas with hard facts. This is a great template to guide you through writing your intro, developing your argument, refuting your opponent’s arguments, and bringing your essay over the finish line with the conclusion.

In an argument essay, you must consider the opposing side(s). This handy template will also show you how to tackle the best of them.

3. Compare and contrast essay outline

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A compare and contrast essay takes two subjects and focuses on their similarities and differences. Sounds easy, right? Wait—there’s more!

Like all good essays, this one also serves a larger purpose—maybe you’re trying to state something unknown, clear up a misunderstanding, or show that one topic is better than another.

This template can help you reach these goals using the point-by-point comparison method. Check it out.

4. Expository essay outline

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Do you like helpful advice? Me too. That’s what you get with this awesome expository essay template. An expository essay is kind of like a book report. Your teacher makes you write one of these to show that you’ve aptly researched a topic.

Though there are many ways to organize this type of essay, start with this outline, and you’ll be in good shape. It will help you explain your topic using facts, evidence, and analysis—all of which will help you showcase the larger significance at hand.

5. Persuasive essay outline

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Prove it to me. A persuasive essay’s goal is to convince your readers that your viewpoint is the right one. It’s kind of like an argument essay, except that you don’t have to use well-researched facts in order to support your thesis. You can focus on emotional anecdotes and stories to convince your reader that you’re 100% correct.

This is a great outline template that really delivers from intro to conclusion. Need to define your audience and lay down your best hook? Look no further than this stellar template.

6. Reflective essay outline

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In a reflective essay, you get to recall an event, object, or person that helped you become who you are today. This is a fun essay to write because all the material for it exists in your own head. You don’t have to research or argue. You simply offer the reader a meaningful glimpse into your life.

These essays don’t have to be serious—just ask David Sedaris—but there are good and bad ways to write them. Never fear—this template is here to guide you in setting up your hook, descriptive body paragraphs, and an impactful conclusion.

7. Research essay outline

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Research essays are beastly—they’re longer than most papers to start. They also typically require more effort because you’re gathering sources and revealing what experts are saying about your topic. But this type of essay is cool because it helps you sharpen both your writing skills and knowledge about a topic.

So learn something, and slay that research essay beast by starting with the best weapon. This template will help you put a framework to your ideas—covering the thesis, context, and history behind your topic, the existing arguments, and why the topic/research matters.

From Outline to Essay

Outlining your essay before you begin writing it has so many advantages. It’s easier to change and reorganize a few points on a page than doing the same for large paragraphs in a rough draft.

Outlines save you time and provide peace of mind when it comes to writing papers. Even when you’re putting words to the page, you can always refer back to an outline to keep you on the right track and avoid getting stuck in one of those scary corners we talked about.

Want to win the essay-writing race? Then make a habit of outlining your essays from now on.

Some Inspiration

Sometimes it just helps to see how others have tackled essays in the past. Check out some of these great example essays from the Kibin database to inspire your next trip down essay-writing lane.

Now you’re ready to rev your outline-writing engine. Kick your typing into gear, and drive that paper from point A to point B with a well-organized structure that’ll show your professor you know what’s what.

And don’t forget—your Kibin pit crew is standing by to proofread that next paper to make sure it runs like a dream when you’re ready to turn it in.

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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