menu

What Is a Prescriptive Essay?


The term "prescriptive essay" refers to a specific type of process analysis paper that explains how to complete a task rather than how something occurs. Also termed a directional process, the prescriptive essay gives the reader steps to follow to complete a task. Prescriptive process essays differ from descriptive, which instead examine how something happens, such as how a volcano erupts.

Required Elements of Prescriptive Essays

The prescriptive essay topic involves a process and explains to readers how to complete a task, such as creating an art project, bathing a baby or training a dog. The introduction may include a list of tools or other items needed to complete the process, such as ingredients for a recipe, and some terms may need definition there or in the body of the essay, such as what you mean by a "fine-bristled comb." Organize the essay in chronological order, using transitions such as "next" and "after" to clarify the steps.

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

Photo Credits
  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images