The Purpose of Process Analysis in Writing
The purpose of a process analysis paragraph is to explain how to do something or how something works. In either case, the formula for a process analysis paragraph remains the same. The process is articulated into clear, definitive steps. Almost everything we do involves following a step-by-step process. From riding a bike as children to learning various jobs as adults, we initially needed instructions to effectively execute the task. Likewise, we have likely had to instruct others, so we know how important good directions are—and how frustrating it is when they are poorly put together.
Writing at Work
The next time you have to explain a process to someone at work, be mindful of how clearly you articulate each step. Strong communication skills are critical for workplace satisfaction and advancement. Effective process analysis plays a critical role in developing that skill set.
On a separate sheet of paper, make a bulleted list of all the steps that you feel would be required to clearly illustrate three of the following four processes:
1. Tying a shoelace
2. Parallel parking
3. Planning a successful first date
4. Being an effective communicator
The Structure of a Process Analysis Essay
The process analysis paragraph opens with a topic sentence that overviews the process and states the goal of the process. The organization of a process analysis paragraph typically follows chronological order. The steps of the process are conveyed in the order in which they usually occur. The paragraph will be constructed based on these steps. If a particular step is complicated and needs a lot of explaining, then it will likely take up more space that the other steps. Words such as first, second, third, next, and finally are helpful cues to orient reader and organize the content of essay.
Always have someone else read your process analysis to make sure it makes sense. Once we get too close to a subject, it is difficult to determine how clearly an idea is coming across. Having a friend or coworker read it over will serve as a good way to troubleshoot any confusing spots.
Writing a Process Analysis Paragraph
Choose a topic that is interesting, is relatively complex, and can be explained in a series of steps. As with other rhetorical writing modes, choose a process that you know well so that you can more easily describe the finer details about each step in the process. Your topic sentence should state the final outcome of the process you are describing. Each step should be expressed using strong details and clear examples. Use time transition phrases to help organize steps in the process and to orient readers. The conclusion should thoroughly describe the result of the process described in the body paragraphs.
Choose one of the lists you created in Exercise 1 and start writing out the process in outline form and then in paragraph form.