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Process analysis

In this kind of paragraph, you are tracing a process over time. The requirements of cause and effect are not as important here. For example, you could trace the process by which stem cells are extracted from living tissue. Or you could walk us through an evening in a Bavarian beer garden.

A set of directions says what to do. A recipe says what to do. A process analysis says what to do, but it also says why it’s being done that way.

The entry-level employee needs to know what to do. The boss needs to know why, in addition to what.

The low-wage employee is just laying asphalt. The boss is paving a bike path.

The carpenter needs to know what to nail together. The general contractor knows why. So the carpenter needs a set of directions, but the contractor needs a process analysis.

organizing principle


Present the events to the reader in chronological order (and in rare cases, reverse chronology).

Divide the process into phases and the phases into steps. Then in the body of the essay, go through the process step by step.


first, second, third


How do I do __?

How did __ happen?

How does child trafficking work? Is it like being kidnapped or enslaved?

How do I apply for this study abroad program?

How to overcome stress.

The divorce process.