What is a procedural text?


A procedural text instructs your audience on how to complete a specific task.  Generally this then falls into two categories, how to make something and how to do something.

The purpose of a procedural texts is to provide sequenced information or directions so that people can successfully perform activities in safe, efficient and appropriate ways.

Recipes and science experiments are common examples of procedural texts.   They use headings and sub-headings they can be structured in the following manner.

Some common forms of procedural texts are.

  • Directions - How do I get somewhere?  Very specific instructions including location names and titles. Formal language is required and the addition of a map will make your instructions so much easier to understand. 
  • Instructions - How do I do something?  Your language must meet the needs of your audience and you may need to include a diagram if there are complex elements to complete.
  • Recipes - How do I cook something?  Recipes are a universal text.  There is a very clear expectation of the audience so never stray from the essentials.  Ingredients, method and a few visuals are essential.
  • Rules for games - How do I play this?  Be conscious of your audience and write in a style and language they will understand.  You are almost guaranteed to require visuals in this style of writing.
  • Manuals - How do I operate this?  Are there any warnings I need to be aware of before proceeding?  Be very specific in your explanation.
  • Agendas - What are we doing?  When are we doing it?  Who is responsible?

An explanation text is similar to a procedural text and these can often be confused, however an explanation text explains the how and why behind a process  such as  

  • What causes a Tsunami?

  • Why are our rain forests disappearing?

  • The process of making aluminum.

A procedural text is generally instructs how to make or do something such as recipe.  Although they appear similar they are very different when compared side by side.  Read our guide on how to write an explanation text here.


Recipe - Sub Headings

  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • Serving Suggestions

Think logically and assume very little..

Science Report - Sub Headings

  • Aim / Hypothesis
  • Apparatus
  • Method; Results
  • Conclusion
Labelled diagrams can save you a great deal of explaining and save your audience unnecessary reading

Labelled diagrams can save you a great deal of explaining and save your audience unnecessary reading

The challenge in writing a good procedural text is to deliver your instructions in a logical manner.  Ensure your instructions are straight to the point and that you as the author understand what you are trying to achieve.  You really want to answer three questions to your audience.

  • What will I need to complete this task?
  • What do I have to do to complete this task?
  • How will I know if I completed the task correctly?

Ensure you also clearly understand your audience, as this will have a big impact upon the language you use.

How to write a procedure


  • What is to be done or made?  What is the aim or goal?  What might your title be?
  • What is needed to complete this?  Materials, ingredients, tools and so on.
  • In what order should things be done?  What are the steps in the process? What is the best way to organize and present them?
  • What will you add to your written text to help the audience understand better?  ( diagrams, illustrations, pictures etc. )


Information report planning tools

Tips for writing a great procedural report

  • Above all else explain what has to be done.
  • Keep everything in order.
  • List all the items that will be required to complete the task.
  • Keep your instructions short, sharp and to the point.
  • Use the correct language and terms.
  • Find or create some labelled diagrams if possible.
  • Use paragraphs effectively.  Each new element of your information report should start with a new paragraph.
  • Procedural texts are always written in present tense and from a third person perspective.

Click here to view a variety of procedural writing samples