How To Write A ‘How-To’ Essay

How to write a ‘How-To’ Essay (Writing Guide)

A how-to essay describes a process to the audience to understand how certain things work, behave or are made. It can also be referred to as a process essay. It is a chronological account of how each step of the system leads to other latter processes to make a product or deliver a service. In a how-to essay, the author can use illustrations, examples, analogies to explain the concept of the reader. The main objective of a how-to essay is to provide a clear set of descriptive instruction on how to carry out a procedure or task. A good example of a ‘how-to’ essay is a recipe. How to write a how to essay is a slightly different from the other typical essays in their format and content organization. Some essays are written with a table in one column having the materials and the other column some descriptive steps. Others are written using the typical structure of essays featuring introduction, body, and conclusion. The author chooses the best approach depending on the audience and the complexity of the procedure. However, in this article, a walkthrough of how to essay writing is described including a sample outline.

How to start a how-to essay

The introductory paragraph explains why the process is important or relevant to the reader. This is to elicit the reader’s desire to go through the process and possibly follow it to perform the task. The introductory paragraph is aimed at capturing the attention of the reader to go through the rest of the essay and understand the process described therein. To start a how-to essay, note down all the benefits of carrying out the process named in the topic. For instance, in a how-to essay about ‘how to wash a carpet,’ you would explain the benefits of cleaning a carpet. Additionally, include a thesis statement in the introduction to outline the purpose of the essay.

How to write body paragraphs for a how-to essay

The body paragraphs describe the process in its entirety. The first body paragraph should contain all the necessary materials to perform the task. If need be, list them and their quantities to enable the reader to understand how they are used throughout the process. Ensure you capture all the necessary materials including tools where necessary. For example, in the aforementioned topic on cleaning a carpet, the process would need water, a quantified amount of soap and washing powder, brush and of course a dirty carpet.

The subsequent paragraphs should describe the rest of the process in detail. Ensure you describe each input into the process exhaustively. Use descriptive language to explain how the process is carried out. Write the body paragraphs in active voice to accurately portray the image of a person doing the process. Each step should build on a previous step. The process should be done chronologically without overlooking any detail deemed necessary for the process. Use simple language put your points across for easier understanding of the process.

How to conclude a how-to essay

The conclusion paragraph should explain how the task, product, or process should be like if the process is followed correctly. This paragraph describes the end product and the general attributes it must have to be considered successful. You can also include the thesis statement but word it differently. It may also be appropriate to highlight the main steps of the essay to emphasize their importance in the process.

List of possible topics for a how-to essay

Here below are some how to essay topics for reference and practice:

  1. How to build a simple drone
  2. How to make a simple carton box
  3. How to play cricket
  4. How to wash white beddings
  5. How to automate a garage door opening and closing
  6. How to prepare sushi
  7. How to ride a horse
  8. How to make a simple tent
  9. How to change a flat tire
  10. How to tie a bow-tie

Outline example for a how-to essay

A how to essay outline is always important in a process essay. It acts as a guiding principle to the author and avoids derailing the procedure. The following is a simple example of an outline for a how-to essay.

How to clean a carpet


Write about the importance of cleaning a carpet. Highlight some disadvantages of having a dirty carpet in your how. Outline some of the reasons why carpets get dirty or how they get dirty.

Body Paragraph 1

List all the materials needed for cleaning a carpet. The quantity is also necessary and advice on variations of the quantities if need be.  For example: water, soap, washing powder, brushes, etc. Specify their quantities per square unit and color or texture of the carpet.

Further Body Paragraphs

Describe the initial stages of the carpet cleaning procedure. If some solutions need to be made, then briefly describe them and explain each step in depth. Chronologically describe them in detail. Then build on each process to the final step in the procedure.


Highlight some characteristics of a clean carpet and how it looks like. You can feature the thesis statement and key steps of the process I.e. Soaking, drying, etc.

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