Most students will be asked to write a process essay during the course of their academic careers. A process essay is essentially a “how to” essay that gives the reader detailed instructions for completing a process. Write your process essay in narrative sentences and provide instructions in the order the reader will complete them. Writing about a task with which you are familiar, such as making cupcakes, is an easy way to learn the structure behind process essays.

Step 1

Write a short introduction that explains the intent of your essay—in this case, to teach readers how to make cupcakes.

Step 2

Instruct readers to assemble their ingredients and tools. List the ingredients needed to bake the cupcakes. Include the quantity of each item. Note any items that are optional and explain any acceptable substitutions. List all tools and explain which are optional.

Step 3

Tell readers to preheat their ovens. Provide a preset temperature and include any variables, such as special temperatures for high altitudes or temperature changes based on the type of pan used.

Step 4

Provide directions for mixing the batter. List the order in which ingredients should be added. Instruct readers to reserve the ingredients that will be used for frosting or decoration.

Step 5

Explain how to prepare the pan. Tell readers whether they should oil the pan and provide instructions for using paper or foil muffin cups. Give instructions for filling the pan’s reservoirs, whether the recipe requires a specific amount of batter or a degree of fullness, such as “fill muffin cups two-thirds full.”

Step 6

List baking times. Provide time variables for regular muffin pans, mini-muffins and muffin top pans. Explain how to tell when the cupcakes are done baking. Tell readers how long cupcakes should cool after baking before they can begin decorating them.

Step 7

Give instructions for mixing frosting. Include basic frosting instructions as well as decorating ideas.

Step 8

Advise the readers about the conditions under which cupcakes should be kept. Explain if they should be kept in an airtight container and whether they must be refrigerated. Note whether cupcakes can be frozen and how long cupcakes will remain fresh.

Step 9

Conclude by offering ideas for serving cupcakes, such as at birthday parties and picnics.


Add value to your essay by including tips and warnings that help readers avoid common mistakes.

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