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How Long Should a College Essay Be? | Word Count Tips

Published on September 29, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on August 17, 2022.

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit. If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

You should aim to stay under the specified limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, if you write too little, it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a thoughtful and developed essay.

Table of contents

Word count guidelines for different application types, how to shorten your essay, how to expand your essay, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Each university has a different suggested or required word count depending on which application portal it uses.

Some application portals will allow you to exceed the word count limit, but admissions officers have limited time and energy to read longer essays. Other application portals have a strict limit and will not allow you to exceed it.

For example, in the Common App , the portal will not allow you to submit more than 650 words. Some colleges using the Common App will allow you to submit less than 250 words, but this is too short for a well-developed essay.

For scholarship essays , diversity essays , and “Why this college?” essays , word count limits vary. Make sure to verify and respect each prompt’s limit.

Don’t worry too much about word count until the revision stage ; focusing on word count while writing may hinder your creativity. Once you have finished a draft, you can start shortening or expanding your essay if necessary.

On some application portals, you can exceed the word limit, but there are good reasons to stay within it:

Here are some strategies for shortening your essay.

Stay on the main point

It’s good to use vivid imagery, but only include relevant details. Cut any sentences with tangents or unnecessary information.

My father taught me how to strategically hold the marshmallow pierced by a twig at a safe distance from the flames to make sure it didn’t get burned, ensuring a golden brown exterior.

Typically, my father is glued to his computer since he’s a software engineer at Microsoft. But that night, he was the marshmallow master. We waited together as the pillowy sugary goodness caramelized into gooey delight. Good example: Sticks to the point On our camping trip to Yosemite, my family spent time together, away from technology and routine responsibility.

My favorite part was roasting s’mores around the campfire. My father taught me how to hold the marshmallow at a safe distance from the flames, ensuring a golden brown exterior.

These college essay examples also demonstrate how you can cut your essay down to size.

Eliminate wordiness

Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay. If a word doesn’t add value, cut it.

Here are some common examples of wordiness and how to fix them.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

If you’re significantly under the word count, you’re wasting the opportunity to show depth and authenticity in your essay. Admissions officers may see your short essay as a sign that you’re unable to write a detailed, insightful narrative about yourself.

Here are some strategies for expanding your essay.

Show detailed examples, and don’t tell generic stories

You should include detailed examples that can’t be replicated by another student. Use vivid imagery, the five senses, and specific objects to transport the reader into your story.

Reveal your feelings and insight

If your essay lacks vulnerability or self-reflection, share your feelings and the lessons you’ve learned.

Be creative with how you express your feelings; rather than simply writing “I’m happy,” use memorable images to help the reader clearly visualize your happiness. Similarly, for insight, include the follow-up actions from your lessons learned; instead of claiming “I became a hard worker,” explain what difficult tasks you accomplished as a result of what you learned.

Most college application portals specify a word count range for your essay, and you should stay within 10% of the upper limit to write a developed and thoughtful essay.

You should aim to stay under the specified word count limit to show you can follow directions and write concisely. However, don’t write too little, as it may seem like you are unwilling or unable to write a detailed and insightful narrative about yourself.

If no word count is specified, we advise keeping your essay between 400 and 600 words.

If you’re struggling to reach the word count for your college essay, add vivid personal stories or share your feelings and insight to give your essay more depth and authenticity.

If your college essay goes over the word count limit , cut any sentences with tangents or irrelevant details. Delete unnecessary words that clutter your essay.

There is no set number of paragraphs in a college admissions essay . College admissions essays can diverge from the traditional five-paragraph essay structure that you learned in English class. Just make sure to stay under the specified word count .

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Kirsten Courault

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College Essays


Figuring out your college essay can be one of the most difficult parts of applying to college. Even once you've read the prompt and picked a topic, you might wonder: if you write too much or too little, will you blow your chance of admission? How long should a college essay be?

Whether you're a terse writer or a loquacious one, we can advise you on college essay length. In this guide, we'll cover what the standard college essay length is, how much word limits matter, and what to do if you aren't sure how long a specific essay should be.

How Long Is a College Essay? First, Check the Word Limit

You might be used to turning in your writing assignments on a page-limit basis (for example, a 10-page paper). While some colleges provide page limits for their college essays, most use a word limit instead. This makes sure there's a standard length for all the essays that a college receives, regardless of formatting or font.

In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

College essay prompts usually provide the word limit right in the prompt or in the instructions.

For example, the University of Illinois says :

"You'll answer two to three prompts as part of your application. The questions you'll answer will depend on whether you're applying to a major or to our undeclared program , and if you've selected a second choice . Each response should be approximately 150 words."

As exemplified by the University of Illinois, the shortest word limits for college essays are usually around 150 words (less than half a single-spaced page). Rarely will you see a word limit higher than around 650 words (over one single-spaced page). College essays are usually pretty short: between 150 and 650 words. Admissions officers have to read a lot of them, after all!


Weigh your words carefully, because they are limited!

How Flexible Is the Word Limit?

But how flexible is the word limit? What if your poignant anecdote is just 10 words too long—or 100 too short?

Can I Go Over the Word Limit?

If you are attaching a document and you need one or two extra words, you can probably get away with exceeding the word limit by such a small amount. Some colleges will actually tell you that exceeding the word limit by 1-2 words is fine. However, I advise against exceeding the word limit unless it's explicitly allowed for a few reasons:

First, you might not be able to. If you have to copy-paste it into a text box, your essay might get cut off and you'll have to trim down anyways.

If you exceed the word limit in a noticeable way, the admissions counselor may just stop reading your essay past that point. This is not good for you.

Following directions is actually a very important part of the college application process. You need to follow directions to get your letters of recommendation, upload your essays, send supplemental materials, get your test scores sent, and so on and so forth. So it's just a good general rule to follow whatever instructions you've been given by the institution. Better safe than sorry!

Can I Go Under the Word Limit?

If you can truly get your point across well beneath the word limit, it's probably fine. Brevity is not necessarily a bad thing in writing just so long as you are clear, cogent, and communicate what you want to.

However, most college essays have pretty tight word limits anyways. So if you're writing 300 words for an essay with a 500-word limit, ask yourself: is there anything more you could say to elaborate on or support your points? Consult with a parent, friend, or teacher on where you could elaborate with more detail or expand your points.

Also, if the college gives you a word range, you absolutely need to at least hit the bottom end of the range. So if you get a range from the institution, like 400-500 words, you need to write at least 400 words. If you write less, it will come across like you have nothing to say, which is not an impression you want to give.


Don't let this sinister hand stop you from writing everything you have to say!

What If There Is No Word Limit?

Some colleges don't give you a word limit for one or more of your essay prompts. This can be a little stressful, but the prompts generally fall into a few categories:

Writing Sample

Some colleges don't provide a hard-and-fast word limit because they want a writing sample from one of your classes. In this case, a word limit would be very limiting to you in terms of which assignments you could select from.

For an example of this kind of prompt, check out essay Option B at Amherst :

"Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay."

While there is usually no word limit per se, colleges sometimes provide a general page guideline for writing samples. In the FAQ for Option B , Amherst clarifies, "There is no hard-and-fast rule for official page limit. Typically, we anticipate a paper of 4-5 pages will provide adequate length to demonstrate your analytical abilities. Somewhat longer papers can also be submitted, but in most cases should not exceed 8-10 pages."

So even though there's no word limit, they'd like somewhere in the 4-10 pages range. High school students are not usually writing papers that are longer than 10 pages anyways, so that isn't very limiting.

standard essay word count

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Implicit Length Guideline

Sometimes, while there's no word (or even page) limit, there's still an implicit length guideline. What do I mean by this?

See, for example, this Wellesley supplemental essay prompt :

"When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the "Wellesley 100" is a good place to start. Visit The Wellesley 100 and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (Not-so-secret tip: The "why" matters to us.)"

There's no page or word limit here, but it does say to respond "in two well-developed paragraphs." This gives you an idea of what's reasonable. "Well-developed" certainly means the paragraphs can be long, but even two long paragraphs shouldn't exceed 500 words or so. That's what I mean by an "implicit" word limit—there is a reasonable length you could go to within the boundaries of the prompt.


But what's the proper coffee-to-paragraph ratio?

Treasure Hunt

There is also the classic "treasure hunt" prompt. No, it's not a prompt about a treasure hunt. It's a prompt where there are no length guidelines given, but if you hunt around on the rest of the website you can find length guidelines.

For example, the University of Chicago provides six "Extended Essay" prompts . You must write an essay in response to one prompt of your choosing, but nowhere on the page is there any guidance about word count or page limit.

However, many colleges provide additional details about their expectations for application materials, including essays, on FAQ pages, which is true of the University of Chicago. On the school’s admissions Frequently Asked Questions page , they provide the following length guidelines for the supplemental essays: 

“We suggest that you note any word limits for Coalition or Common Application essays; however, there are no strict word limits on the UChicago Supplement essays. For the extended essay (where you choose one of several prompts), we suggest that you aim for around 650 words. While we won't, as a rule, stop reading after 650 words, we're only human and cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention indefinitely. For the “Why UChicago?” essay, we suggest about 250-500 words. The ideas in your writing matter more than the exact number of words you use!”

So there you go! You want to be (loosely) in the realm of 650 for the extended essay, and 250-500 words for the “Why UChicago?” essay.

Help! There Really Is No Guidance on Length

If you really can't find any length guidelines anywhere on the admissions website and you're at a loss, I advise calling the admissions office. They may not be able to give you an exact number (in fact, they probably won't), but they will probably at least be able to tell you how long most of the essays they see are. (And keep you from writing a panicked, 20-page dissertation about your relationship with your dog).

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. It's a fairly standard word limit length, in fact. (And if you're wondering, that's about a page and a half double-spaced.) 500 words is long enough to develop a basic idea while still getting a point across quickly—important when admissions counselors have thousands of essays to read!


"See? It says 500 words right there in tiny font!"

The Final Word: How Long Should a College Essay Be?

The best college essay length is usually pretty straightforward: you want to be right under or at the provided word limit. If you go substantially past the word limit, you risk having your essay cut off by an online application form or having the admissions officer just not finish it. And if you're too far under the word limit, you may not be elaborating enough.

What if there is no word limit? Then how long should a college essay be? In general, around 500 words is a pretty safe approximate word amount for a college essay—it's one of the most common word limits, after all!

Here's guidance for special cases and hunting down word limits:

If it's a writing sample of your graded academic work, the length either doesn't matter or there should be some loose page guidelines.

There also may be implicit length guidelines. For example, if a prompt says to write three paragraphs, you'll know that writing six sentences is definitely too short, and two single-spaced pages is definitely too long.

You might not be able to find length guidelines in the prompt, but you could still hunt them up elsewhere on the website. Try checking FAQs or googling your chosen school name with "admissions essay word limit."

If there really is no word limit, you can call the school to try to get some guidance.

With this advice, you can be sure you've got the right college essay length on lockdown!


Hey, writing about yourself can even be fun!

What's Next?

Need to ask a teacher or friend for help with your essay? See our do's and dont's to getting college essay advice .

If you're lacking in essay inspiration, see our guide to brainstorming college essay ideas . And here's our guide to starting out your essay perfectly!

Looking for college essay examples? See 11 places to find college essay examples and 145 essay examples with analysis !

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Ellen has extensive education mentorship experience and is deeply committed to helping students succeed in all areas of life. She received a BA from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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Essay Word Counter

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What Is Essay Word Counter?

An essay word counter is a simple yet powerful tool that has the ability to quickly count the number of characters and words within an essay. While the primary goal of an essay word counter is to measure characters and words, this tool allows you to determine the number of sentences and paragraphs that your essay consists of.

If you're tasked with reading your essay aloud in front of a classroom, this online word counter can help you prepare by providing you with an estimated speaking time and reading time. If you're asking yourself "How do I count the words in my essay?", plugging your essay into an online word counter will allow you to receive nearly instantaneous results.

Benefits of Using This Tool Compared to Alternatives

Online word counter tools offer the functionality you need to determine what your current essay word count is. There are several additional tools that can provide you with similar functionality, which include Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and PDF documents. Even though all of these alternatives allow users to measure the word count and character count for their essay, they lack many of the extra features that set the online tool apart from the competition.

Wordcounter vs Microsoft Word

When comparing this online word counter to Microsoft Word, the online word counter allows users to paste any kind of text into the box. Even if the text comes from a PDF file, it can be easily copied into the word counter. Among all of the alternatives for an essay word counter, Microsoft Word may be the most comprehensive of the three. Along with measuring the number of words, it can also count characters, pages, lines, and paragraphs. The main issue with Word, however, is that it's less intuitive than using an online tool.

When you click on word count in Microsoft Word, you'll be provided with data on the lines, paragraphs, words, and other aspects of your essay. However, the word count extends to every page of the Word document. To identify the number of words and characters in a specific section, you'll need to highlight the section and select the word count option again.

Wordcounter vs Google Docs

As for Google Docs, this tool doesn't display a status bar that tells you how many words are present in the document. To receive an updated word count, you must select the "Tools" tab that's found in the "Menu" section. From here, you'll be able to select "Word Count". When compared to the online word checker tool, Google Docs doesn't include information about how many sentences are in your essay or the frequency of a specific word.

Wordcounter vs PDF Tool

When it comes to a PDF document, you'll find that these documents are similar to Google Docs in that they don't include a status bar. You're also unable to access any kind of menu that allows you to view the word count of the essay you're writing. There are two distinct options for identifying the word count in your essay. First, you can convert the PDF file into what's known as the Rich Text Format, which makes it easier for you to count the words. You could also upload the file directly into this online word counter, which will give you an accurate word total.

The primary benefit of using the online word counter tool is that there are a number of exclusive features like speaking time and reading time that can't be found in other tools like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Essay Length Best Practices

Whether you're writing an essay for a high school class or for graduate school, there are some best practices that can guide you through the process and help you write the best essay. The most important element of writing an essay is getting the length right. If the essay is too long, there's a good chance it isn't as succinct and direct as it should be. The essay length guidelines you should adhere to include:

High school essay

The average essay word count for a high school essay is 300-1,000 words. Most high school essays are five paragraphs long with an introductory paragraph, three total body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.

College admission essay

This essay should be around 200-650 words long. Along with having a set word limit, these essays should include a look at your motivations and interests.

Undergraduate essay

This essay can be around 1,500-5,000 words long. The content and length depend on the college and program you're entering.

Graduate admission essay

An admission essay should be 500-1,000 words in length. Make sure you include a lengthy personal statement that details your motivations and academic achievements.

Graduate school essay

This extended essay word count is usually around 2,500-6,000 words. The assignment you receive depends on the course you're in. Most graduate-level essays are lengthy and can involve research papers.

IB extended essay

The IB extended essay word count is 4,000 words. This essay is mandatory for every student of the International Baccalaureate program and is based on independent research.


How Many Words In An Essay? [A Word Count Guide]

Whether you are writing an essay for school or for a course, you may wonder how many words you can include in your written essay.

Generally, the exact word count in an essay depends on the subject, the course and the essay requirements.

How Many Words In An Essay? [A Word Count Guide]

In this article, we take a closer look at the word count for different types of essays, and how you can avoid exceeding the word limit.

How Many Words Should An Essay Have?

Different types of essays have different word limits. Generally, essays can vary from a few hundred words to 6,000 words.

An essay is typically defined as a short piece of writing with a certain structure. An essay should present an idea as concise as possible, and it shouldn’t be too lengthy.

Essays aren’t as comprehensive as research papers or a thesis. They should be much shorter.

Typically, essays are assignments given to students in higher education. They come with guidelines on how many words and pages are expected to be written.

Many standard essays range from 2,500 to 4,000 words, although this can vary depending on the course and assignment restrictions.

High school essays are usually a little shorter and they tend to be 300 to 1,000 words. These are often simple 5-pagragraph essays that include an introduction, a few paragraphs and a conclusion.

Undergraduate college essays are a little more extensive and they range from 1,500 to 5,000 words. 

The exact length of undergraduate essays depends on the department, syllabus, course level and the institution.

Other graduate essays, including postgraduate essays, tend to be much longer with 2,500 to 6,000 words.

They also vary depending on the course level and department but they are typically the beginning of a research paper.

There are also a number of different admissions essays, such as undergraduate school admission essays, that you may need to write to be admitted to a college or university.

These can range from anywhere between 200 and 1,000 words.

Whatever essay you are tasked with to write, it’s essential that you check the guidelines on word count and the expected pages.

Often these guidelines also advise the style of writing as well as the font and font size. All this can make a difference to the length of your essay.

How Long Is Each Part Of An Essay?

All pieces of writing are typically split into introduction, main body and conclusion. This also applies to academic writing and essays.

The main body of the text should take up the most space of your essay. This is where you present all your arguments, develop your ideas around the topic and provide evidence.

An introduction is usually just a couple of paragraphs to introduce the topic. It should be proportional to the overall length of your essay.

The longer your essay, the longer your introduction needs to be. After all, you will need to put down some background information and introduce your argument.

An essay conclusion should be kept brief and concise. The conclusion is usually just a single paragraph, although this can also vary depending on the overall essay length.

As a rule of thumb, many basic academic papers are five-paragraph essays. This means that there is one paragraph for the introduction, three paragraphs for the main body and one paragraph for the conclusion.

When you are writing your body text, then each body paragraph should cover a central argument and idea.

How Long Should A Paragraph Be In An Essay?

The length of a paragraph in your essay will vary depending on the overall word count of your essay and the arguments that you present in your written work.

Essays are typically divided into five paragraphs, although this depends on the essay guidelines.

In academic essays, the majority of space is taken up by the main body text which is typically three paragraphs long.

The main body text allows you to present your main arguments, ideas and offer evidence for your thoughts.

It’s important to structure your essay in the right way. While there’s no exact paragraph length or paragraph word limit, you need to make sure that your presented arguments are clear and concise.

Can You Go Under The Suggested Essay Word Count?

Can You Go Under The Suggested Essay Word Count?

Yes, you can also write fewer words for your essay as long you fulfilled the assignment requirements and you have structured your work well.

However, bear in mind that you should not sacrifice any good arguments just to stay under the word limit.

If you are struggling to get even close to the word count, then there are quite a few things you can do.

It’s a good idea to add as many examples and evidence pieces to your paragraph as you can. This will support your arguments.

Also make sure that you fully analyze and explain each example in detail to fully develop your point.

Each paragraph in the main body text of the essay should pick up a new argument and aspect of the topic.

It’s essential that you do not use any filler words or text that doesn’t add to the meaning of your essay. 

Artificially bumping up the word count with complicated sentences or unnecessary words will just weaken your arguments in your paper.

Lastly, don’t overfixate on your word count . While word limits are set to guide you, many markers do not always worry too much about 100 words over.

The important thing is that you bring your argument across and that you have a good essay structure.

Can You Go Over The Suggested Essay Length?

Sometimes you are allowed to go over the suggested word limit by roughly 10%. However, how strict the word count is handled depends on your institution and the course.

That’s why it’s important that you check with your course instructor.

As a rule of thumb, it’s only a good idea to exceed the word limit when it supports your argument.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep the number of words in your essay as low as possible.

It’s important that each paragraph is clearly structured to support your argument and idea. You should deviate from the main point and don’t include any irrelevant information.

Check the words that you use and remove any filler words that don’t add to the clarity of your sentences.

When you remove a paragraph or sentence, then you need to make sure that you revise any links or transitions from your previous paragraph.

As the introduction and conclusion are both relatively short anyway, there is usually not much space to cut out words.

No matter how many words you need to cut, your essay should be on topic and packed with powerful arguments.

Final Thoughts

The length and word count of an academic essay can vary, from a few hundred words up to 6,000 words.

Whether you are writing an essay for an academic assignment or college admission, make sure that you read the instructions and guidelines carefully.

They will give you an idea of what to write about and how many pages as well as words you should write.

Alan Reiner

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Why You Should Use EduBirdie’s Essay Word Counter?

The design team at EduBirdie has created a word counter tool that you can use to improve the quality of a paper. Our team created this tool because we know how important it is for you to stay within the page limits established by a professor. Read this quick description to find out how our character count calculator helps.

A Brief Overview of How Word Counter For Essays Works

Our online word count calculator counts the written words in an essay so that you can avoid going over a professor’s character and word count limit and avoid using redundant text and language. Here is a small guide on how to use it: 

Why Our Word Count Tool is the Best

First of all, it’s free, as well as other essay writing tools by EduBirdie.com: free paraphrasing tool , plagiarism checker, case converter tool and many others. When submitting an essay to be checked, you do not pay a dime. Use it as many times as you want without worrying about how much it costs, it is free. Moreover, our character count and word count for essay check tool always works; you will never be left in the lurch. Never worry again about glitches or bugs preventing you from getting your work done. In case  any help is needed, 24/7 Customer Support will immediately give an answer. That's mean that If there are any questions about how to use our online device, contact our customer service specialists. They are always available to assist you!

How Character Count Can Help

Don`t worry about the limits of text, we keep you within a page limit through all the process. Most, if not all, professors give their students a page limit. Going over a professor’s page or word limit will result in a lower grade than you would normally get. Thankfully, our word counter tool tells how many words, pages, and characters are in an essay so that you can avoid upsetting your professor.

We will help you avoid redundant phrases to make a paper  perfect match to requirements. No one likes a long-winded essay that says the same thing over and over again. That is another reason why we have created this word counter software, because staying within a character limit helps keep an assignment short and to the point. By eliminating superfluous language, and keeping your paper short and to the point, you will make it easier for the reader to understand and appreciate your ideas. Sometimes less is more and more is less.

Also, Edubirdie character counter has Auto-Save function. Now you won`t get distracted too to save your footage. This keeps you much more concentrated and saves time and text, so you`ll never lose any bit of your work.

The Benefits of Using our Online Word Counter Tool

This is a perfect tool for speeches. It helps identify the length of your written speech in minutes, not exceeding the time allocated for your oral presentation.

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standard essay word count

How Long is an Essay?

10 August, 2021

12 minutes read

Author:  Donna Moores

Making sure that you stick to the recommended amount of words is important for your academic performance. Even the slightest deviation from requirements might reduce your grade. But why let such a nuisance spoil your mark when you can just know what word count for each specific essay type is? So, how long is an essay? This question seems to be the talk of the town among students. As all students know from experience, the higher the academic level and the more specific the study area is, the stricter the course requirements are and the longer the essay should be. In the following guide, we will discuss how essay length varies depending on the academic level and what to do to find out what a proper essay length should be.

How Long is an Essay?

Essay Length Tips

Try to stick to the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule indicates that an essay should have the following structure: 80% of the text should be covered in the main body, and only 20% – in the introduction and conclusion. If you want to make sure that your text is easy to comprehend – make use of this rule. Structuring the paper in such a way makes sure that the reader does not lose the key idea of your essay.

Cover a single topic sentence in one body paragraph

Another valuable tip covers the composition of body paragraphs. Namely, keep in mind that each paragraph should reveal only one topic sentence, one point, and one argument. It is inappropriate to discuss two points in the same body paragraph since the whole essay loses its coherence this way. If you feel like you have some extra points to add, it is always better to create a new paragraph for this purpose.

Take spacing into account

Spacing plays an important role in assuring you follow the word count. For instance, a single-spaced page contains 550 words, while a double-spaced page contains 275 words respectively. So, according to the spacing you choose, you can always keep track of your word count. But to make sure you are as accurate as possible, you can always check the number of words right in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Five – this is the minimum required number of paragraphs

A basic paper structure requires five paragraphs, where three paragraphs belong to the main body part, and the other two cover introduction and conclusion. Keeping the outlined structure in mind always proves helpful, especially when it comes to sticking to a suggested word count.

Different Essay Length for Different Academic Levels

As a rule, a middle schooler is expected to write way less than a university student. Although the essay length often depends on the assignment type rather than academic level, the difference still exists. Below we will discuss what a recommended essay length for school and university essays is.

How Long is a Middle School Essay?

Middle school is where essay writing skills are being tested professionally. How long should a college essay be? Normally, essays length for middle school students varies between 500 and 1000 words. A typical middle school essay follows a well-known essay structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and summary (five paragraphs). Main body is usually the most informative part of a school essay and takes 80% of the word count. So if your teacher asks you to deliver a 1000-word essay, keep in mind that they expect you to write 800 words of main body text. But how long is a 500 word essay, for example? Well, this wordcount equals a page and a half. Based on this length, you can count the number of pages required for your essay.

How Long is a High School Essay?

There are several things that you, as a high schooler, might want to keep in mind. First of all, the essay structure remains exactly how it was in middle school. The only difference is that your tutor will expect a more profound analysis as well as a bigger essay length. Students need to show a more professional attitude to the topic and write approximately 2000 words for each essay.

How Long is a University (Undergraduate level) Essay

Apparently, the essay length will gradually extend as soon as you enter higher academic levels. At the university stage, students are challenged with complex subjects and are asked to reflect on the knowledge they gained during the course. Usually, Bachelor students write 5-10 page papers.

University essays imply demonstrating not only the knowledge and skills obtained during the course but also showing your writing skills. Students usually get long time frames to write such papers as they require research and extensive analysis.

If you are an undergraduate student, you may expect your professor to assign a couple of 1500 -word essays that explore a particular topic.

How Long is a University (Graduate level) Essay

A graduate level essay is similar to an undergraduate one. Although it often depends on the topic, university, and course, there are a lot of similarities between university essays for students of all academic levels. For a graduate-level student, the word count is somewhere between 3000 and 6000 words. However, courses that also imply other kinds of assignments, such as lab reports or practical exercises, might have looser essay length requirements.

Other requirements apply for those who are about to write their final dissertation or a master thesis. These are assignments that ask you to write 100,000 words or even more. For this type of assignment, you will be given a couple of months to research and write a paper.

How long is each part of an essay?

The length of each essay part usually depends on the general word count for the entire paper. How long is a 1000 word essay then? If the suggested essay length equals 1000 words, then you need to devote roughly 80% of the word count to the main body part, 10% for introduction, and 10% for a conclusion. However, if you are about to prepare a 10-page paper, this does not mean that final remarks and introduction should be proportionally big. Instead, it is always a plus when you keep your introduction short and up to the point. The same concerns the conclusion part. Always make sure you use only the most relevant information and avoid pouring water just to make the text look massive.

How to Manage Essay Word Count

Trying to achieve the suggested essay length might sometimes turn out to be quite a challenge. Here are some tips to make it easier for you:

Create an outline

Creating an outline before starting to write a final draft can do you good. First of all, having a clear plan indicates how many words you should write for each essay part. This approach will prevent you from extra editing work as well as give your text a transparent structure and message. You will get an idea of how to use the space that you have and avoid adding unnecessary information throughout the text.

Review the extant literature

To write better papers, it is always recommended to acknowledge the topic you’re working on. The reason why a lot of essays get poor grades is hidden in the insufficient topic understanding, so make sure you do solid research.

Make use of examples

Using examples in the text always proves to be a good idea. First, this approach enriches the text and gives it a lively tone. Additionally, referring to examples helps a lot when it comes to extending the word count. If you need to write 100 more words but have no idea of  what to add – add examples! Also, you may include some facts, data, or basically any evidence.

Revise your paper

Revising proves helpful when it comes to reducing the essay length. If you wrote 1500 words instead of 1000 – simply review the text and search for the information which sounds extra. Once you take a fresh look at your essay, you will certainly find entire sentences that do not fit in or just don’t make a lot of sense.

Can I go under the suggested length?

Going under a suggested length isn’t a crime as long as you’re close to the suggested word count. In other words, it is fine to write 900 words if the suggested length is 1000, but writing less than 900 words might affect your grade. Nonetheless, we suggest that you try to get as close to the required word count as possible – your tutor will appreciate it. If you are struggling to extend your text, here is what you can do:

Can I go over the suggested length?

As a rule, no one expects you to fit into exactly 500, 1000, or 2000 words. The standard acceptable deviation usually equals 10% of the text. This means that if the paper’s instructions ask you to write 2000 words, it will be fine if you go up to 2200 words.

However, this rule might not hold true in some cases, which is why we advise you to consult your professor on this matter.

We also recommend all students make the word count as close to the required one as possible. Exceeding the standard length always equals more time spent on evaluating the assignment, so try to compress your essay by using the following techniques:

What if there are no length guidelines?

It might be the case that your paper does not provide any writing instructions at all. In this case, you can manage the situation in several ways:

Simply search for the requirements online

If no strategy seems to work – just google it. You will easily find social media posts and forum answers on how to write a specific kind of essay. Besides, you can visit your chair’s website and look for essay length requirements there. It sometimes happens that professors don’t indicate any word count because the information about it is available on the website.

Make conclusions based on the paper description

Take a look at your essay instructions. If they say that you should write a paper with three brief body paragraphs, it means that each paragraph should equal 150-200 words. If the paper asks you to develop your ideas in well-developed paragraphs, you will certainly need to write at least 400 words for each.

If you aren’t sure – contact the administration

If you couldn’t find the information regarding world limits but still feel like it is important to stick to rules, get in touch with the admissions office. They might not tell you exactly how long your paper should be; but they will tell you what an average, acceptable word count is.

How Can Handmadewriting Help You?

If you’re having a hard time coming up with an optimal word count or just don’t know how to fit all your ideas into a single essay, we are glad to help! At Handmadewriting essay writer service, we care about your grades as much as we care about the quality of our service. If you need to write a small 500-word essay or a 10-page report, we can help you achieve your academic goals. Place your first order and explore all the benefits of college essay writing!

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Free Online Word Counter for Essays

Use our word counter to check how many words are in an essay instantly.

Free Online Word Counter for Essays

How Our Word Count Checker Works

Count words or characters in your essay, paper, or any other academic text in a few clicks. Insert your text and enjoy accurate results – it’s as simple as that!

Tick the box to proceed further – your text won’t be saved in our system.

Enter the text to check how many words or characters it contains.

Have word count calculated automatically and get your result instantly.

Features of Our Word Counter Tool

Features of Our Word Counter Tool

StudyCrumb’s word counter is loaded with features that you will undoubtedly find pleasant. With the benefits you get, it definitely wins over any word counter tool online.

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Why Choose StudyCrumb

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Word Counter Online & Character Counter

Our tool goes beyond a simple text word counter. It works like a word character counter and offers multiple options. In case you have a special requirement from your professor, for example, a character limit, this tool will definitely come in handy. Likewise, you may need to find out the amount of characters without spaces. Our high-end instrument will be an all-inclusive solution. Just input the necessary part and calculate the number of symbols in your text.


Word Count Checker

It’s very important to stay on the top of your page word count. Students may think that several slips every here and there won’t cause much harm. But your school may have strict requirements to the acceptable limit for every academic work. While you are expected to write 150 words in an essay introduction, this amount won’t suffice in an introductory part of your research paper. So if you need to know how many words are in an essay or its particular section, use our tool for a quick result.


Character Count Without Spaces

Things get trickier if you need to find out the number of characters without spaces. No worries! With our character calculator at your fingertips this won’t be a problem. Our free character counter can exclude the spaces so you can enjoy accurate results. This is a perfect feature for writers, translators and students who have a very peculiar requirement. Just copy-paste any passage in an online character counter and it will handle everything in seconds.


Character Count Tool

Sometimes, the limit is measured in characters. That’s when you may need a tool that can handle character count online. We’ve got you covered! Our team saw that situation coming and did our best to provide you with this option. You can use our advanced tool to count characters in your document. And if the actual number doesn’t fit in the expected limit, you can easily modify your text in a respective field.

StudyCrumb’s Essay Word Counter: Handy Tool

We have developed this essay word counter to help students count the words and characters in their papers and academic texts. Are you writing an essay and want to make sure that your word count is precise? Or, maybe, you have a research paper or dissertation with a strict character limit requirement? Whatever your case is, our word count checker will be an irreplaceable instrument in your arsenal of writing tools. And the best part about this tool is its simplicity. Finding out how many words is this will no longer be a struggle. What’s more, you can make changes right in the editor field. You don’t have to switch between our tool and your document to meet the right limit. All results of word character count will be displayed instantly.

Count My Words in My Essay for Me!

Before you submit your newly-written paper, we advise you to count the number of words in it! StudyCrumb’s online tool can help you keep track of the number of words in your paper. It will allow you to concentrate on important topics. Now you won’t need to give yourself a headache wondering “how to check word count?” Just use StudyCrumb’s profitable tool that is always useful to keep handy. After all, knowing your word count can help to improve your work.  Hot tip: A nice way to establish a good word count is by determining whether the headings should be counted. And when headings do not count, they can be included in words in direct quotes. The quality of any essay might suffer if it is too long. Instead, aim for brief and catchy headings. And let a tool do all the counting the words for you!

Online Words Counting Generator for Different Types of Writing

Access our tool if you need counting number of words that you've written. It encourages every student to follow their word limit! This can be important for public speaking or speech preparation. Every guru at our speech writing services suggest finding balance especially when it comes to oral presentation. It is helpful if writing for advertising and academic goals is a big deal. Our tool also determines the word count limit. It is useful for writing social media headlines and Google meta descriptions.  Looking at your presentation and think “how many words is this text?” Try to count them to assess the word density. For some papers, it's common to submit up to a thousand words. But many writers end up over the limit or falling short. Knowing that you’re using count words in text for free is a great way to avoid such problems. Any argumentative essay writer will appreciate such a tool. It can become an essential metric for content writers, whether they are college students or professional authors. Calculate word length in many different ways. But keep in mind — our tool will help you determine it best. It's easy to use. So, save your time and avoid any stress. You can reuse it at any time.

Count the Words in My Essays & Papers

When composing essays and other kinds of written work, your first concern can be “how many words are in this essay?” It is important that students meet all requirements. Consequently, they should know how to count essay words accurately. Word count dendends on the depth of your project. That is why you may need professional essay help .  The first thing you should do is check what the instructor has suggested as a word count. An essay might require fewer words depending on the subject. If it turned out shorter than the assigned word count, you may want to focus on providing a high-level overview of the topic, especially if you need to write my dissertation . Longer papers can delve into more details. However, in both cases, it is important to keep an outline to guide your writing process. Next, check how many words in essay you wrote line by line. StudyCrumb’s tool lets you count the words beneath charts, graphs, and photos. Now you can use it instead of thinking “how many words is my paper?”

Why Is It so Important to Count the Words in an Essay Correctly?

Why is it so important for you to “count how many words are in my essay”? Why do you browse different sites? Looking for one to “count my essay words”? There are few answers to these questions. A critical aspect of knowing essay word limit is how you use the words. The time your audience has to read through your essay is limited. Therefore, it's important to organize your thoughts in a clear and concise way. Make a list of the key points and then spend some time on the important topics. Don't forget that StudyCrumb is essentially an academic service where you can buy essay on any subject and have all requirements met. So, using an online tool when you must know how to count how many words in an essay when writing is simply necessary. And StudyCrumb is here to help you out in whatever way you need!

Paragraph Word Count by StudyCrumb's Free Online Words Counting Tool

StudyCrumb's online tool is perfect when you want to know how many words in this paragraph! You don’t have to do anything otherworldly to use the paragraph word counter. All one should do is follow a simple instruction. This word counting program works well for longer text categories such as articles and novels. It works by dividing a text into several parts. This way you won’t have to do this yourself and wonder how many words are here. You can check the length of your text by using an online helpful tool! You can immediately check your characters and page count, as well as run a spelling check or free grammar check . A paragraph or sentence can also be counted! Remember that one can enable or disable the feature of counting spaces. Punctuation marks will be counted automatically.

Counting Words in a Sentence

Have you ever wondered how many words are in this sentence that you just wrote? StudyCrumb’s tool aims to help you just with that. Students can easily check the quality of their writing and the number of words calculator whenever they need it. Our tool can be accessed from any device, such as a computer or smartphone. It can calculate number of words in your sentences and paragraphs. So don’t waste your time! Save this page as your device’s bookmarks and check your texts when your professors demand it! It won’t cost you anything. The text you wrote would look even more beautiful. Having a handy word count scanner is consistently another latest useful feature!

Important Features of Our Word Count Estimator: Find Word Count Easily!

Every calculator for words list has a bunch of quality features. And StudyCrumb’s is not different. How do you get word count of a document with its help? It's quite straightforward. Copy and paste the desired text into a box. That’s it, that’s the total guide. Use our number of words counter online for free to determine how many pages, paragraphs, and sentences you've written. Moreover, you’ll be able to see the approximate time it would take the audience to read your text. Our words counting software provides only accurate results that one can get online. Moreover, it is 100% free! You don’t have to set up a new account, register, or post any credit card number to use our tool. Just paste your text and check its length as many times as you need. If your academic work has space for improvement or it lacks some sections, contact our thesis writing service . 

Writing Word Count With Spaces

Do you need to set up the word counter including spaces? It is one of the features our online words calculator has. Their number will be shown under the status bar below the text you paste in a box. This is a useful feature when you don’t feel like writing more content and can pass the spaces as an additional number of characters. Our word count tool online for free breaks the number of words based on the number of spaces that were used. It adds that number to the overall quantity of words in your paper. Simple math!

Word Count Without Spaces

StudyCrumb’s word calculation without spaces feature is useful. Test it if you wish to calculate word count of a document without any extra spaces. Everything is displayed under your input text box in the result section. Why would one need to check a writing word count without spaces though? It can help determine whether you should add anything to the paper or delete any content from it. After all, in this case, you won’t be able to use the “space number” excuse to nope out of writing more parts of your essay!

The Most Famous Word Counting Machine of All Time

StudyCrumb offers you one of the best word count tools and words to pages converters that can greatly assist you in writing an essay. Our website that counts words can help you with even the toughest assignments. It ensures that your essay is the correct word count. Our website to count words for free will also be useful for anyone who works in writing, academic or otherwise. It could be used to create a wide range of writing projects including in-app messages, meta descriptions, targeted content marketing, and social media threads. If you’re writing your paper, it will remind you that every word serves a purpose. Each one is placed there for a reason. Moreover, it will show you how long it would take for your audience to read your paper. So get checking right now! Be sure to use our plagiarism detector before submitting your composition.

Benefit From Our Online Essay Word Counter

StudyCrumb’s word counter for essay offers a whole pool of benefits. As our document word counter is free, it’s not the only benefit you can appreciate:

Needless to say, while writing in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Google Documents, you can easily see word and character count. But if you are dealing with a pdf file, you should put in some extra effort. Luckily, with our paper word counter, you can solve this issue effortlessly.

Get help from academic experts!

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FAQ About Essay Word Counter

Have any unanswered questions about our word frequency counter? Check out the answers below and find a flash answer.

1. Do I need to register to use the word count checker?

No, StudyCrumb’s word count checker can be used without registration. We did our best to make the process as smooth as possible. You can check count values without creating an account.

2. Does your word counter check spelling?

Sure! Our instrument works like a spell checker and word count tool. This way, you can count symbols in your document and detect spelling errors, if there are any. Our tool will underline the areas that need extra attention.

3. Does this character counter include spaces or not?

Our character counter will show the count values both with and without spaces. Once you enter your text, you will get in-depth results where you will see characters including and excluding spaces.

4. Does your word counter tool save my text?

No, StudyCrumb’s word counter tool doesn’t save your text to the database. Your privacy is our top priority. We designed a tool that doesn’t store content you enter.

5. Do spaces count as words in an essay?

Yes, they do. Our word counter for free online will show you the number of words with or without spaces in a result section below the input box. These numbers will be vastly different. It only means that spaces count as words in an essay.

6. How do you find out how many words did I write?

Our tool is powered by an AI. So, it obviously knows how to count words. It divides the entire text by spaces and then counts the resulting pieces which are the words. Then it will show you the number of words it counted in a section below, as well as this number plus the number of spaces found in your text.

7. How do I check my word count on an essay quickly?

Just use our tool if you need to count the words in a document! It has a fast mode with an intuitive interface that delivers only accurate results. It is completely free, which means that you won’t have to suffer through a trial period or set up an account in order to use it.

8. Can you count the words in my document if it’s 50 pages?

When using a words count online, you should take into consideration your text’s font and formatting. For example, a page made of Times New Roman 14 is not the same as Arial 12. That said, our tool can handle a text of >100.000 characters and >15.000 words.

Other Tools You May Like

Other Tools You May Like

StudyCrumb offers you more than just a word counter. We’ve designed a whole bundle of free writing tools that can improve your academic experience. Check them out below!

10 Ways to Increase Your Essay Word Count (AI Included)

Ben Pines

One of the biggest challenges students face is writing long-form essays of 2,000 words or more. At a recent student webinar, someone brought this up, and I couldn't help but think back to my freshman year. Several years ago, I had to write a long essay on an interesting but unfamiliar subject.

After writing hundreds of articles, essays and reports, I've developed my own list of 'smart hacks' to help increase word count on any written piece. 

Instantly increase your word count with this FREE AI tool > Instantly increase your word count with this FREE AI tool >

standard essay word count

How NOT to increase word count

Adding fluff words.

Adding meaningless words only confuses the core arguments and distracts the evaluator. Whatever merit your actual content may have had will be obscured by a mountain of meaningless words.

The sentence in my essay read,

"Violent acts by adults are often caused by childhood exposure to violence.".  

If I try to forcedly add fluff words to expand the text, my sentence would sound stretched:

“Violent acts are often associated with the fact that adults who commit violent acts - acts that are seen as savage, harsh, rough, physically abusive, or otherwise unacceptable in society - have been exposed to similar harsh or extreme violence during their childhoods or when they were young”.

Voice and tone

Although passive voice makes a sentence longer, I have found that my writing is much sharper when I use active voice. Also, do not confuse the need to use a formal or academic tone with passive voice.

Quoting without context

This one is like digging yourself into a hole. I quoted so many out-of-context references that I found my essay running on all sorts of tangents. After spending hours trying to connect the dots between the tangents, I ended up having to rewrite the entire piece because I was unable to justify the distracting content. 

Mindless paraphrasing

You hear it from your professor, and spew it back at her. Mindlessly repeating content in different sections of an essay - as if your teacher wouldn't notice, won't really help you ace your courses.

Even more mistakes

After asking some of my classmates, I found out that some of them had resorted to even worse hacks that eventually got them in trouble:

The right way to increase word count

Eventually, my word count increased in a way that makes each word actually count (pardon the pun), and it turns out there are some pretty cool tricks to do that.

With the right tools and techniques, you spend less time on the heavy lifting, more time on the actual writing, and at the end of the day, you have a much more comprehensive essay that is a delight to read. 

1. Use an AI writing tool

Skip the manual paraphrasing and use a smart AI writing tool. For example, I added almost 50 words to a 125-word paragraph using Wordtune’s text expand feature .

How to add more sentences to a paragraph

One method to expand your word count is to find short paragraphs and adding more sentences that clarify what they mean. This task used to be pretty frustrating, but with the use of AI it's made simple. Start by going over the essay, and notice if there's a paragraph that stands out in terms of being lean and overly simplified. Paste that paragraph into the Wordtune editor, and click the 'Plus' icon.

standard essay word count

You'll be able to expand the article in any number of ways, including adding a statistical fact, a joke, example, analogy, or a simple continuation of your idea. Then, simply scroll through the different suggestions that AI produces, and find the best one.

2. Take advantage of outlines

It may seem counter-intuitive, but completing your outline can help you meet your word count goal.

Say you need to turn a 200-word article into a 1,500-word essay. Make an outline of the article before trying to tackle this seemingly impossible task of writing the whole piece.This will give you a clearer picture of how your entire thesis works and how to logically support it.

As an example, suppose we're writing an essay on why kids shouldn't play phone games.

To begin, you need to summarize your message in a few sentences. For example:

‍ “Kids have susceptible brains, and games can change the whole chemistry of their brains in a bad way, causing them to go off on tantrums and screaming fits. Moreover, these games form addictive habits that will persist when the kids become older. By continuing to play phone games, the kids fail to develop emotionally, and may become unsocial introverted people. Moreover, there are signs that games make kids more violent and emotionally unstable. Since phones are always at reach, kids can continuously play throughout the day, not stopping even when eating lunch or when attending a school class.”

Before expanding it, write an outline to get a sense of its structure and flow. As a result, you can easily determine how much text is needed for each section, which ones require expanded text, and which ones can be kept brief.  This clarity not only helps me reduce anxiety, but also gives me a clear plan of action to finish this essay!

For example, for the paragraph on video games, my outline would look something like this:

Introduction (include statistics and research to argue that video games are harmful for kids) and state the thesis (250 words) Negative effects of video games on children: first build larger categories and then substantiate with smaller points, evidence and data within each point: - Effects on emotional development (200 words) - Effects on physical development (200 words) - Effects on social development (200 words) - Effects on intellectual development (200 words) Give counter-views Cite research that talks about potential positive effects of video games, if used the proper way and under supervision (250 words) Give solutions State why parents find it so hard to keep kids away from video games, especially mobile video games, and offer concrete solutions to set better boundaries with kids for video game usage (250 words) Conclusion Offer a strong conclusion that brings all of the essay together in a summary (250 words)

Note that I’ve planned to write a few hundred more words than the prescribed word limit, so I have scope to edit and tighten later on. 

3. Expand your text with intros and conclusions

I use this method all the time to get unstuck and write longer articles without worrying about word counts.

Let's say you finish expanding your outline, and the article is still short a few hundred words.

Two places you should consider expanding are the introduction and conclusion.

How does this work?

Add these elements to your introduction and conclusion, and you will quickly reach your essay quota.

Here's an example from the Wordtune blog of an anecdote placed as part of the intro:

standard essay word count

4. Use examples to illustrate your point

It is always helpful to provide examples to illustrate complex academic or technical points. As well as adding color and descriptiveness to your own words, examples help your arguments come to life in a way that academic writing cannot. Having read several essays about the same topic, your evaluator will probably find it enjoyable to read something more creative and genuine. 

Examples also help readers visualize your narrative. The situations can be real or imagined, but they must be authentic, relatable, and most importantly, relevant to your topic. Providing examples from your real-life experience will demonstrate to the teacher that you understand your topic.

I started this article by describing my experience as a freshman. The challenges I faced as a student are similar to those you are currently facing, so sharing my journey will help you learn from my mistakes.

5. Invest in serious research 

Research is the most effective way to increase a paper's word count. 

The more research you conduct, the more ideas, perspectives, and information you have to base your arguments on. 

Research takes time and effort, which you may or may not have. 

Here's where my smart tools come into play.

No matter how long a paper is, Wordtune Read will give you all the key highlights.

The following is a composite screenshot of how Wordtune Read summarized the effects of video games on children from a long and complex article. The key highlights on the right help you distill the core messages of the research in minutes, condensing hours of reading into minutes.

standard essay word count

In just a few steps, you can add at least two supporting arguments or stats for each point you have in your outline. And just like that, you have several hundred very relevant words, added almost effortlessly to your essay.

6. Ask 'Why' questions

At this stage, the research has already provided you with some solid perspectives, but there's nothing like adding some original perspectives to the existing body of research. Asking ‘why’ questions is an effective way to do this. In addition to strengthening your arguments, it will also enhance your essay with relevant and original content.

Think back to the example of the negative effects of video games on children. Let's say one of the arguments you have is "phone games cause emotional issues". Use a series of 'why' questions to dig deeper into the text. 

Ask questions like: "why is that true?", "Why is it important?", etc. For each answer, ask another why question and develop some original angles based on the insights that may emerge. 

While it beats manual paraphrasing in terms of speed, I felt it also improved the overall quality of the writing.

7. Address the counter view

It's a foolproof way to score brownie points with tutors and also add some value - and word count - to your essay. 

Counter views or counterpoints are positions diametrically opposed to your own.

I argue, for example, that video games negatively affect children in the essay about video games. There is always some literature available (and there is always some literature available) on the counter-side of why and under what circumstances video games can actually have a positive impact on children. I am able to write a pretty solid section on that topic. 

By balancing the pros and cons of both arguments, I will also be able to bridge the two points of view.

Just like that, you've added about 200 words to your essay!

8. Use quotes and references

While the bibliography section doesn’t usually count towards the overall essay word count, there are some easy tricks you can use to maximize the references. Once you are done with the essay, run through your list of citations and find interesting quotes that you may have missed, which you can now incorporate.

standard essay word count

9. Get feedback from a friend

If you're like me, working on the same essay for a long time with complete immersion means you develop blind spots to obvious misses and flaws in your text.

Ask a trusted friend or peer to look over your essay again. Share your essay on Gdoc with your friends and find out if they spot something that seems missing, out of place, or that stands out like a sore thumb.

Also, ask them to question your assumptions in the essay - this may give you new angles and perspectives to explore, thus expanding the word count even further.

10. Add text while editing

Once you have finished writing your essay, you can use the review stage to edit and add text to your essay.

This is another great opportunity to use your AI writing tool, and get suggestions for ways to make your sentences more fluent . You can also replace superfluous words with stronger vocabulary, and pick alternative ways to word sentences that contain repetitive words.

Try and spot long, convoluted sentences and break them up to smaller sentences.

standard essay word count

Keep it long and interesting

Essays that meet the prescribed criteria, including word count, indicate to your teachers that you not only possess subject matter knowledge, but also writing, grammar, logic, research, and communication skills.

You can find interesting angles even in the most mundane sounding topics if you challenge yourself to do the work and not worry too much about the word count. With the 11 smart hacks - including use of the smart writing tools - essay writing and meeting the specified word count becomes much easier! 

Learning how to expand a text in an interesting way - and not just by adding fluff - makes you a better writer regardless of the format - essays, reports, statements of purpose - even books! 

P.S. This article was co-written with Wordtune . Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.

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Word Counter Blog

How Many Paragraphs in an Essay?

How many paragraphs in an essay?

As a rule, you’ll write your essay in three main parts. First, you’ll introduce your topic to your reader. Next, you will have body text in which you discuss the topic in more detail, and finally, you’ll have a conclusion that tells your reader what you were able to see after looking into the facts or thinking through the topic.

In its simplest form, an essay can consist of three paragraphs with one paragraph being devoted to each section. Proponents of the five paragraph essay say that the body text should consist of three paragraphs, but in reality, it’s fine to write more or fewer paragraphs in this section.

Guessing How Many Paragraphs Before You Begin

This is a rule of thumb, which means it won’t always work quite that way, but it’s handy all the same. In academic work, your paragraphs are likely to be a bit longer than most of the ones you see in this blog post. On average, there are usually 100 to 200 words in a paragraph . So if you’d like a guesstimate, you can assume that a 1,000-word essay will have between five and ten paragraphs.

What Points Do You Have to Cover?

Another, less limiting and more accurate way to work out how many paragraphs you need to cover your topic is to look at the main points you have to cover in the body text. A paragraph contains all the ideas that support or explain a single concept.

When you are planning your essay, you will think of or research the main elements that are needed in the body text. It would be safe to assume you need at least one paragraph for each of these. Of course, if there is a lot of information to cover in order to explore each area, you may need more.

For example, if you are writing an essay on childhood development and exposure to technology, you will want to look into the physical, psychological and cognitive developmental effects of tech on kids. When you research this topic, you will find that there are contrasting points of view and researchers have identified several physical, developmental, and psychological effects of technology use in children.

Assuming five psychological effects have been identified, you can assume you’ll need to write five paragraphs if you are going to write a relatively in-depth essay. But if both those who say technology is bad for kids and those who say it can be good have done a great deal of work on the sub-topic, you might want to make that ten paragraphs so that you can cover both sides of the argument and look into how earlier authors reached their conclusions.

Of course, if you have been set a relatively short word limit , you may not be able to go in-depth at all, in which case a paragraph for each of the main sub-topics (psychology, physical development, and cognitive development) will likely be adequate.

Essay Content Is More Important Than the Number of Paragraphs

Ultimately, your essay will be evaluated on the information you present, not on the number of paragraphs in the essay. Early in your academic life, teachers and lecturers may give you both a structure for your essay and a guideline on how long each part of the essay should be. I have seen essay instructions say how many marks are allocated for each section, and my trick is to take the total word count and allocate a percentage of words to each section based on the percentage of marks you can get for it. After all, if the teacher is allocating 80 marks for content in total and you can see 50% of the mark relates to a certain part of the essay, then 50% of your essay’s words should be devoted to that section.

Sometimes, you’ll just be given a topic and told to air your opinion. This gives you more freedom, but it’s a tad more difficult. The research will show you how many angles you should look at, and it’ll help you to find information that both supports and contradicts your point of view. To make a strong argument, you need to look at both supporting and contradictory information.

To avoid getting tangled up in one aspect of the discussion, you’ll have to decide how long it should be. If it’s the most important aspect informing your conclusion, you can spend a little more time (and words) on that particular point. It could run into several paragraphs rather than just one or two.

Always Remember the Purpose of Paragraphs

Paragraphs structure information into sub-topics, and they make your work easier to read and understand thanks to the structure they provide. With careful advance planning, you’ll be able to work out more or less how many paragraphs you need to complete your essay.

How many paragraphs is…

For those looking for a general rule-of-thumb, below are some estimates on the number of paragraphs there would be in an essay of different lengths based on an average length of 150 words per paragraph. Of course, the number of paragraphs for your essay will depend on many different factors. You can use the following information for a general reference, but don’t take these numbers as literal. .

Basic Essay Word to Paragraphs Conversions

I don’t understand, How can a 100, 200, 300 and 400 word essay all have 3 paragraphs if a paragraph is 100 to 200 words long? A 100 word essay should be 1 paragraph or 1/2 a paragraph, not 3 paragraphs. Can someone explain this too me?

A sentence is an idea. A paragraph is a group of ideas that relate to one another. That’s the most important point. The second most important one is remembering that your text consists of introduction, body, conclusion with at LEAST one paragraph for each. While teachers like 100 to 200 word paragraphs, you can’t always apply that. Call it a guideline rather than a rule!

the general rule is that 3 paragraphs are minimum for an essay. So, no matter how short your essay is, you should still need 3 paragraphs. If you are really for some reason writing a 100 word essay, then you should have one short sentence for both your introduction and conclusion.

I was always taught an essay has five paragraphs by my teachers. Did they lie to me? If an essay only needs three paragraphs, why would my teachers tell me that they should have five?

I think the five paragraphs for an essay is more of a rule-of-thumb number that is easy to teach students when they are first learning to write. Your teacher was just trying to make sure you understood how to write, not give you a rule you had to always obey.

I think five paragraphs is a good number to shoot for when writing, but it isn’t a hard-fast rule you need to hit every time. Each essay is different and require more or less paragraphs depending on the information you need to provide in the writing.

yes and no.. i would say a good on as 4 paragraph. Intro, 2 body P, and a conclusion.

My teachers always taught by eight paragraph essays, but five-paragraph essays normally lie precedent to the more advanced or larger essays.

I was taught essays should be 7 paragraphs long, not 5. My teacher said 3 central paragraphs never gives enough detail to the topic, so we should write 5. It makes sense to me and that is how I’ve always done it.

What you’re taught is often a general rule to shoot for, not a rule set in concrete. That’s the case with this. Your teacher felt that 7 paragraphs was a good number for the essays you wrote for her, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. it’s a general rule, not a concrete one.

How many sentences if we don’t know how many sentences we need to write?

The average paragraph contains 5-6 sentences. If you’re feeling a little extra, paragraphs can be 7-10 sentences.

It also depends on whether or not you are bringing outside information into the paragraph as well. Using quotes makes a paragraph longer than not doing so.

I think the length of a paper depends mainly on the instructions given by the instructor. Secondly, I would decide a paper length on the basis of the grading rubric.

I already knew an essay has three paragraphs

Inilividual project: follow all steps and develop a paragraph of your choice and write all expository essay with not less than 500 words of the povoloped paragraph?

On average for a five-paragraph essay, I write around 1,000-1300 words. For an eight paragraph essay, I write around 2,000-2,600 words on the document. Keep in mind your quotes too, you should have one quote per paragraph (expected) or two (recommended). It really is up to the person though, I have a buddy who writes considerably less than I do, but is able to get his point across. It is really up to the person.

Student A: Sir, do we have to write a long essay?

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How to Increase or Decrease Your Paper’s Word Count

Anthony O'Reilly

How many times have you worked hard on a research paper or essay , felt confident in your argument, and decided you were ready to turn it in, only to notice that you’re still behind on the word count? Or perhaps you wrote too much, and now you’re struggling to find parts to cut.

How do you increase the word count without being redundant or reduce the word count without sacrificing your key arguments?

You take a deep breath and continue reading our suggestions on the best ways to increase or reduce word count without compromising the quality of your paper.

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What is word count?

Word count is what it sounds like—the number of words in a given writing sample or document..

Word counts exist for many reasons—print publications, for example, have them to ensure stories can fit in a defined space in a newspaper, magazine, or book.

But when it comes to research papers and essays , word counts are used to level the playing field: Each student has the same number of words to get their point across. A strong writer can do this without using unnecessary words to reach the minimum word count, while also avoiding rambling and exceeding the maximum word count.

One of the biggest reasons some students run into problems with word count requirements is that they may be too focused on it. The writer can become more focused on the number of words than on getting their point across clearly and concisely.

Your main priority is making sure your argument and writing are strong, and you may find that reaching your word count is made easier by doing just that.

7 ways to reduce word count

When trying to reduce word count it’s important to use a scalpel and not an axe—meaning you don’t want to delete large portions of your paper to ensure you’re below the maximum word count. Instead, you want to find small but significant ways to bring down your word count.

1 Look for redundancies in your argument

Look to see if you’ve repeated any information in your paper, and delete any redundant points.

If your paper has to do with climate change and you mention the rate at which the polar ice caps are melting twice, delete the second mention (unless it’s related to a separate point you’re trying to make). If you find yourself reiterating the same point in slightly different language, choose the one that is written more clearly and eliminate the other.

2 Eliminate unnecessary or ancillary information

Find any details that don’t serve your argument and delete them. For example, if you’re writing a paper about George Washington’s policy positions, you don’t need to mention his personal life unless it directly impacted his political career.

3 Get to the point

The best arguments are clear and direct, and your paper should strive to be the same.

We could’ve built up that last sentence by talking about the different styles of communication or the pros and cons of being direct, but instead, we got to the point.

Trying to build up your argument not only adds more words but may also weaken it, especially if you’re using unnecessary words.

4 Delete the and that

We often use the while speaking, but in writing, there are times when the can be removed without changing your sentence’s meaning.

That is another common word we use, which may be unnecessary in some sentences. An example is in the sentence you just read—the writer instinctively put that before we and then realized it was unnecessary.

5 Eliminate unnecessary prepositional phrases

This is yet another example of separating how we speak from how we should write. Too many prepositional phrases can be a sign of excessive wording.

Getting rid of the prepositional phrases forces you to tighten up the sentence. The result is shorter, more direct, and easier to understand.

6 Use an active voice

Writing that utilizes an active voice tends to use fewer words than writing that uses a passive voice. Let’s show you what we mean:

Writing with an active voice not only helps reduce your word count but can also help you communicate your argument in a more effective and clear way than using a passive voice.

7 Avoid unnecessary adverbs and adjectives

Adverbs and adjectives add extra words to your paper, and depending on their usage they may weaken or not add any value to your argument.

6 ways to increase word count

The word count may make up a significant part of your paper’s grade, but your final mark will likely rest on how well you write and the clarity of your argument.

For that reason, you don’t want to use more words merely to reach your word count even though using more words is an easy way to reach the word count.

That last sentence is a perfect example of what not to do. Here are some ways to extend your word count without resorting to adding unnecessary words.

1 Investigate the paper’s topic more thoroughly

Read through your paper and see if there are ways in which you can further discuss your topic without adding redundant or unnecessary information. Two ways you can accomplish this are:

2 Explore all angles of your paper’s thesis

Check to see if you’ve explored all angles of your thesis statement , which will not only increase your word count but will likely strengthen your argument as well. For example, if you wrote a paper on why people should exercise but only discussed physical health reasons, you could also discuss its psychological and economic impacts.

3 Include alternative points of view

Introducing alternative points of view can help increase your word count and show that you’ve thoroughly researched the topic.

For example, if you’re writing about capitalism, you could also discuss Karl Marx’s critiques of the economic system.

4 Flesh out thin body paragraphs

It’s important to note that you can flesh out thin body paragraphs without introducing redundant or unnecessary information. Instead, you’ll want to write detailed sentences to support your topic sentence , which can be accomplished by introducing facts, quotes, examples, or anecdotes backing up your point.

5 Find another primary or secondary source to include in your writing

Including additional primary and secondary sources is yet another tactic that can increase your word count and give your argument more legitimacy.

As a reminder, primary sources are anything that provides a firsthand account of an event (autobiographies or diaries, photos, artifacts, or videos). Secondary sources are descriptions, interpretations, or analyses of such events (textbooks, research papers, or documentaries).

6 Expand quotes

Writers will often paraphrase quotes in an effort to keep their argument concise, but there are times when you can expand on them to increase your word count and further illustrate a point.

Let’s revisit the Fight Club quote we used just a bit ago. If we wanted to expand the quote, we could’ve included the main character’s next sentence, which is, “Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don’t really need.”

When expanding quotes, it’s important that they add value to your argument. If the next part of that quote dealt with soap making instead of consumerism, it would not have been a good idea to include it.

Word count FAQs

Word count is the number of words in a writing sample. Word counts are used for many reasons, but in research papers and essays they’re used to level the playing field: Each student has the same number of words to get their point across.

How do you decrease word count?

How do you increase word count?

standard essay word count

Essay Tools

Free Word Counter Tool

You may be a blogger, a professional content writer or a student, facing the need to write tons of words all the time. You often have to deal with certain restrictions, concerning the number of words. We’ve designed a Word Counter Tool to make sure you have exactly the amount of text you need. You won’t need to worry about the length of sentences. You won’t fail to post your article just because it’s too long or too short. You even don’t have to open MS Word to know how many words you’ve written.

Use our tool at your convenience! Just type in or insert the text in the field below and get what you need – the number of characters, words, sentences and paragraphs.

Characters: 0

Sentences: 0

Paragraphs: 0


Why is Word Count Important (How to Manage Assignment Paper Length)

Word count is a crucial factor in writing projects which affects how much time you are going to need to complete it in time. It is a grading criterion which is entirely within the student’s control and failure to stay within the usual allowance range of 10% can result in penalties to the final grade. To put it another way, word count guidelines are there to help students with their assignments, so it important to always pay attention to this!

Understanding the main purpose for assigning a specific limit on the number of words in an assignment should help you write a better paper that stays on track and help you avoid unnecessary filler content. Given the importance of this factor, we will be covering this in more depth first, before moving on to tips on how to manage the word count and make the paper longer or shorter, as per your requirement.

Table of Contents

What is the purpose of word counts for an assignment?

1.       word count guidelines clarify the level of detail which is being expected.

Word counts are one of the most important clues that teachers give to students to inform them what is expected of them in the assignment. We have covered in our guide on assignment structure that combining the word count with the grading criteria can easily give you a rough outline and draft for your paper, which will then make the actual writing work much easier. You can also use our assignment time calculator to estimate roughly how long you will need.

If you end up writing a fair bit more or less than the stated guideline, it should be an indication for you that you have either:

.. or a combination of these factors.

If you ever face a situation in which you are really struggling to meet the word count, then it is time for some introspection and reflection on what you have written compared to what you have learnt in your coursework. This is because word count guideline and limits are anything but random – you can be sure that they’ve been chosen after careful consideration so try not to make unfounded assumptions that ‘there must be a mistake with the word given’!

To summarize, the main issue that teachers have with shorter papers isn’t actually that they didn’t meet the word count – it’s the fact that a paper with a lower word count is likely to be lower in quality with weaker points which have not been fully substantiated to the extent required.

2.       Word count limits emphasize the need to be precise and concise

Limits on the number of words allowed in a paper also pushes students towards being precise in the points that they choose to include in their assignment and present it in a concise manner. Without word counts, students will have a hard time by determining themselves how much content needs to go into each section or subsection.

So, without word counts, some students may potentially struggle to write a good paper and up with content which is too thin (as they do not know what is being expected of them). Other students may wander all over the place and end up writing too much unnecessarily. Hence, they are important guidelines that help stress the importance of quantity over quality – writing a lot doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve written good content!

3.       Word count requirements fairness in grading of all students

Another point worth considering is that word counts help make the grading scale uniform and standardized for all students – it levels the playing field by ensuring that all students make the points which they need to within the same number of words. Going one step further, word count guidelines can also be standardized across different courses, modules, universities and even countries, making the odds even for all students everywhere (well, at least in theory).

grading papers fairly

What is the purpose of word count allowance?

When a teacher specifies the word count for an assignment, they are not going to scrutinize whether you have stopped a few words short or went a few words over. What they’re trying to convey to you is that to answer the assignment requirement properly, you will roughly need the number of words that they have specified to cover all necessary points concisely.

Hence, you will almost always have a word count allowance for your assignments since the actual number specified is only intended to be a ballpark figure to guide you on the level of detail required. The standard allowance is usually 10% plus or minus so if your assignment length has been specified as 2,000 words, it would fine to turn in a paper that ranges from 1,800 words to 2,200 words. If the word count allowance was specified as 5% instead, then would mean that your paper needs to between 1,900 words to 2,100 words in length.

On the other hand, if there is no specific note about such an allowance range in the assignment requirements file, try to check the module outline file since it may be given there instead. Should that not give you any result, then check the university guidelines and see if you can find it mentioned there. If you don’t have any luck with that either, then you should probably just ask your teacher directly. In any case, try not to make an assumption on the word count allowance.

How to boost word count and make an essay paper longer

For some students, word counts are things to be dreaded and they may often find themselves falling short of the minimum word count which has been specified. It doesn’t have to be all that hard! You can follow these tips to make your essay paper longer easily in an organic way that doesn’t make your teacher suspect that you’ve resorted to some cheap tricks to achieve this.

1.       Add critical analysis to paraphrased points

A crucial part of academic assignment writing is to draw on points mentioned in other credible sources like peer-reviewed journal articles or trustworthy news outlets. When doing this, paraphrasing is an extremely important skills that you need to develop to avoid plagiarism. Even if you are providing the source from where you have taken an idea, we generally advise not to quote directly unless unavoidable. We have dedicated guide for how to effectively paraphrase ideas from other sources in your words and this guide includes some helpful tips on how to get better at this skill.

paraphrasing content in your own words

When paraphrasing content from other sources, you should always add a critical analysis of the point which you are referencing. Apart from increasing the word count of you paper, this helps you tick another checkbox. Teachers expect to see you engage with the material taken from a credible source and this approach would be proof of that.

To show you an example of how you could do this, you can see the table below. We follow a few steps to end up with more than twice the number of words that we started out with.

So, by paraphrasing a source text of 54 words, we ended up doubling that (39+73 = 112 words ) with relatively little effort. For more information on this, check out our dedicated guide on how to critically analyze and engage with existing literature.

2.       Add relevant examples to support your points

You can also make use of examples to add more credibility to the points that you are trying to make. This also comes with the benefit of informing your teacher that you were able to grasp the idea or concept better as you were able to match it to a suitable example. So, taking the same scenario as above regarding competitive forces, we can then add another sentence at the end like this:

In this way, we’ve added another 94 words on top of the 112 from earlier, so we have now added around 206 words to the paper. To put this in context, if this were part of a 2,000-word paper, we have effectively written around 10% of the required word count fairly easily. To identify how and where you can add examples organically, you may need to skim over your essay a couple of times and try to get a feel for which parts could use an example or two.

3.       Include a secondary supporting reference for your point

If you feel it is appropriate, you can also include an additional point from a different source which supports the previous statement and adds further weight to the message which you are trying to convey. Having too many references is better than having too few references. However, you should try to find a middle ground and make sure to follow up referenced points with critical analysis so that your entire paper isn’t just a mix of views of others with no originality to the points you are making.

4.       Include facts, figures, or other statistical data

This would be done in a similar way to the previous suggestion in which you can provide some facts and figures from reliable sources to support the information you have just presented. You could potentially also do it the other way around by starting with a stat or figure and explaining it in your own words.

5.       Try to balance your points with alternate viewpoints (and address them)

This is the opposite of the above suggestion. You can also try to increase the words in your assignment in an organic way by presenting some opposing arguments and then trying to take a stance on which seems more appropriate or suitable to the topic of your essay. For nearly every single point that you make, there are likely to be differing viewpoints from others – you have to pick your battles though as inserting conflicting viewpoints for every single statement would make your paper dry and monotonous.

If you do use this option, then you have to make sure that you address the opposing viewpoints with suitable counterarguments and why one view is superior to the other.

6.       Always add labels for figures and tables

Labels for figures and tables are typically included in the word count of assignments unless otherwise specified. There’s no good reason NOT to use labels for each and every figure and table which you include in paper. Apart from being a standard requirement in many academic formats/styles, it is a fairly easy way to increase the word count of your paper, so it’s a win-win to always do this.

7.       Make proper use of transition (connecting) words

You can also make use of transition and connecting words like the following to increase your word count while also creating a coherent flow between your points.

8.       Check the assignment requirements one more time

If you have done all the suggestions above and still find that you are short of the word count and are lacking ideas on how to expand further, then you should take a look at the assignment requirements again. Perhaps there could be some keywords in there for ideas, concepts or information that are expected, which you may have potentially forgotten or overlooked in the heat of writing the assignment.

9.       Avoid tricks like adjusting font and margins

Most students have a natural tendency to ‘under-write’ thinking they have a covered a topic or point adequately in a smaller number of words than are needed. However, if you find yourself trying to increase the word count of your paper using unnecessary phrases then you should realize with your intuition that you have not articulated your thoughts adequately. This means that the quality of your essay isn’t likely to be all that good and so you’re going to end up with a lower grade.

Another reason why you should avoid desperate tricks like using some large typeface fonts or adjusting the margins is because they’re fairly obvious to spot to a trained eye. You might not notice it, given your relative inexperience, but you can bet that your teachers would have seen almost all the plays in the book and spot weird formats in an instant.

As an example, a common trick that some students do is to add in some unnecessary words between some paragraphs and set the font color to white. The algorithm of some plagiarism detection software have been beefed up in recent times to detect this trick and automatically places a markup on such things that are out of the ordinary for teachers to review manually. In other instances, teachers who can spot that the content seems to be lacking compared to the word count specified can download the Word version of your submitted file, change the formatting details to standard style (which includes the font color) and detect this trick easily enough.

10.   Avoid unnecessary filler and fluff

You should be careful not to add in fluff material which would make it very difficult for teachers to get the gist of the points that you are trying to make. Remember, most of your teachers have probably been ‘in the game’ for a long time now and are sure to have come across a wide variety of students and the tactics that they use to pad their paper and reach the word count. As a result, it is usually very easy for them to tell that you have just filled your paper low quality content to meet the required word count.

How to shorten an essay paper?

There are going to be other times when you will want to cut down the length of your paper as you may have already exceeded the word count, which is typically the case for those writing long thesis or dissertations. If you are in a position where you have gone significantly over the word count and beyond the allowance range, then it means that you probably haven’t narrowed down or focused on just the most important and relevant points.

You can reduce your word count by avoiding things like repeating long form of words which are often represented by commonly used abbreviations and acronyms. This includes topics like like Human Resources Management (HRM) or concepts like Resource Based View (RBV). The first time that you use these kinds of words in your paper, you should mention the full form and include the abbreviation or acronym in brackets. Thereafter, you can continue using the shortened form for the rest of your paper.

How many words to write if word count is not specified?

If the necessary word count has not been mentioned for an assignment, then you should try to consider some other cues in the assignment requirements files. We have a guide on the standard word count weights (percentages) – this can help plan how many words to allocate to each section and then add them all up.

What is included in the assignment word count?

1.       in-text references.

In-text references are included in the word count, which is typically why some referencing formats specify the use of the phrase ‘et al.’ (which is derived from the Latin word for ‘and others’) when the source you are citing has multiple authors. In some formats like APA, you should use this phrase if there are more than 2 authors, while in another format like Harvard, you only need to use this when citing works with more than 3 authors.

2.       Labels for tables and figures

What is not included in the assignment word count, 1.       abstract / executive summary, 2.       table of contents, 3.       footnotes, 4.       references / bibliography, 5.       appendix, suggested word counts.

Around 200-300 words should be sufficient for Abstract / Executive Summary.

2.       Introduction and conclusions

Typically, you do not want to exceed 10% of the overall word count for introduction and conclusions. If the paper that you are writing is a thesis or a dissertation of 10,000 words or more, then you can even go as low as 5% of the overall word count but use your own judgement for the optimal length of these section. Most importantly, try to check the weights assigned to these sections in the scoring rubric and make sure to match that.

3.       Personal Statement

Other misconceptions about word count.

The counter for words in an MS Word document as well as most plagiarism detection software like Turnitin to which you submit your assignment does not include the spacing between words in the overall word count. These are counted under the separate counter for ‘Characters (with spaces)’.

The impact of different referencing styles on word count

This was much more important in the past, when assignment papers were almost always submitted as hard copies and, in these cases, the referencing format and style had a big impact on whether you had met the word count of your essay or not.

This is because each of the standard styles had their specific guidelines for page margins, the spacing between text, the specific font to be used and its size and other similar factors. If you had followed these correctly, teachers would be able to roughly gauge the total number of words that you have written just by looking at the number of pages.

Now, you’re probably thinking that counting the exact number of words on a hard copy assignment, especially if it is long, is impractical as it would take a long time. We can set you straight on that – teachers have an easy trick to get a rough estimation of the number of words in your paper.

So, do not try to be a wise ass – your teachers have been doing this for so long that it is almost second nature for them to tell if a student has met the word count, and whether they have used any obvious tricks to make it seem like their paper is long than it is.

The key differences in different formatting styles are summarized below to help you get a better understanding of this point.

Hu B,. Hu, M., Yang. Y. (2016). Open or closed? Technology sharing, supplier investment, and competition.  Manufacturing Service Operations Management .

Porter, M. E. (1979). How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy. Harvard Business Review [Online]. Available from: https://hbr.org/1979/03/how-competitive-forces-shape-strategy [Accessed 14 November 2021]

Reuters (2019). De Beers curbs diamond supply as earnings drop. Reuters [Online]. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-anglo-results-debeers/de-beers-curbs-diamond-supply-as-earnings-drop-idUSKCN1UK1WB [Accessed 13 November 2021]

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Home ➔ Essay Length Questions ➔ How Long Is a Short Essay?

How Long Is a Short Essay?

If you’re wondering how long a short essay should be in words or pages, you probably don’t have a specific length requirement. The words “short,” “brief,” “concise,” or “succinct” here can imply two things — based on what you’re supposed to write. It can be a usual essay they give in schools or a supplemental admissions response to a prompt. Let’s discuss the first case — the school assignment.

According to Janet D. Stemwedel, a philosophy professor at San Jose State University, the answer is:

A short essay is 500 words long , which is about two pages with double spacing and one page with single spacing.

That number is based on the assumption that you use Times New Roman font (12pt) with standard margins. Various formatting styles have different requirements for those elements. Hence, always check if you must adhere to a particular set of instructions before writing.

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Let’s consider another example. Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences provides some short essay samples that are personal statements and application essays written by students who wanted to apply for various programs. After looking through them (link in the references section), you can see that all of them are pretty much the same — about 500 words. Within that limit, the applicants had to explain why they wanted to pursue their educational careers in that college.

As for a common short essay, it has a traditional structure: an opening (hook, thesis, etc.), a body section, and a conclusion. In 500 words, you can develop and present an idea adequately, which means your paper will consist of 3–5 paragraphs. That’s generally ample to give background information, incorporate one central point, and wrap it up with a conclusion.

5-Paragraph Short Essay

Usually, five paragraphs are an unspoken minimum for a short essay to accomplish its objectives. This number of sections allows you to introduce your topic or claim, discuss or prove it, and provide the reader with a rational conclusion.

Note: To find out more about the five-paragraph structure, see our article — How to Structure an Essay .

20-60-20 is the best ratio for each main element. Your opening and closing paragraphs should be about the same length. And, the largest chunk should be taken by three body paragraphs.

What About a Short Answer Essay?

You will typically have to write this as a brief supplemental essay when applying to college. It should be smaller than a normal brief essay with an average length of 150–250 words.

Often, you won’t find any precise requirements for short answer essays (like a clearly stated word limit). But, if you’re sending it online, the system won’t let you exceed the recommended number — you just won’t be able to submit it.

One paragraph is a standard length for your answer, and whoever is examining it should be able to read it in about sixty seconds. That’s why you need to make the most out of every word. If your answer is lacking in length, it won’t be meaningful, and if it’s longer, they may even skip reading it.

A “short” essay doesn’t imply worse quality or less effort. Conversely, you need to make every word count and pay special attention to grammar, style, punctuation, and tone.

If you’re allowed to write a 250-word answer, it means the school wants to know more about your personality. Be sure to make your writing compelling for that overworked admissions board officer who has already read hundreds of these answers.

What’s the most suitable length for a brief answer essay? Well, aim for 125–150 words if the instructions don’t implicitly say to write more. This range is enough to elaborate on one of the extracurricular activities or your personal experience.

When composing it, don’t overthink what to tell the board about — be yourself. The foremost goal of this small essay is to show who you truly are and what values you have. It’s easy to see when a person is dishonest. A story about volunteering will not necessarily have a stronger effect than a piece about your science fair project.

Differences Between a Short Essay and a Short Answer

The table below summarizes and compares a regular short essay and an application answer to a question.

Final Tips on Succinct Essays

We hope now you have a better idea about short essays and their length. If you have more questions, try using our navigation or search bar.

A 5-paragraph structure would be the most common one for this word limit. Hence, to write a short essay, you can follow the guide we linked to earlier in the article. It describes in detail every step involved in essay writing, regardless of length.

It depends on your essay type. If you’re writing an admissions essay, they will give you one or several prompts. Otherwise, go for a topic the discussion of which can fit the word count.

When it comes to opinion pieces, the word “short” implies a broader range — somewhere between 200 and 2000 words. Some of the best short non-fiction essays are: “Phoning It In” by Stanley Bing, “Beer Can” by John Updike, “Of Revenge” by Francis Bacon, “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, “Assassins of The Mind” by Christopher Hitchens, “A Dog’s Eye View of Man” by James Thurber.

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How to Increase Word Count

Last Updated: December 20, 2022 References

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. This article has been viewed 90,786 times.

Word count is the total number of words in a document. You may be trying to increase the word count of your essay for a class or a paper for a school assignment. Or, perhaps you want to increase the word count of your novel or short story to meet a deadline. Bolstering word count can be done by adding new content or by expanding on existing content. With the right approach, you can increase word count in your work easily and efficiently.

Adjusting Existing Content in Your Paper

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Adding New Content to the Paper

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Increasing Word Count for a Novel or Short Story

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standard essay word count

How Many Words Is a Five Paragraph Essay - Writing Guide for Standardized Tests

Academia is rich in standardized tests, and each of those has specific rules to follow. As a student, you have to be aware of relevant standards to meet and be ready for extra researching in case something about the assignment is unclear.

So, the fundamental features that may influence your writing strategy while preparing a certain school project are:

This way, depending on the type of your assignment, those elements can be omitted or changed.

No one would be surprised if we say that an essay is the most common paper for students to prepare. And, in this guide, we will dwell on the basics of that assignment and discuss a five-paragraph essay and its length, in particular. Why so? Because to come up even with such simple writing, one needs to understand how to organize it and what to include in its parts.

What about the format, citations, structure, and language of your 5-paragraph paper? Here, you should consider each of those elements in the context of the type, purpose, and subject matter of the essay assigned. For instance, the main idea is to convince the reader. Then, you are to apply different means of reasonable and persuasive communication. Or, if there is an argument in focus, you have to look for a reliable piece of evidence for supporting your central message.

Sometimes, students think that the five paragraph essay is easy writing and become satisfied just by having their text divided into those 5 sections. And, that is why your grade can be dramatically lowered. Yes, everyone should learn how to write that specific essay and meet its purpose as well as expectations of academia. But, failing to meet the basics is what also counts during the assessment. Assignment with only five paragraphs has quite a rigid structure, and its length is just what you need to consider first. Knowing how many words is a five-paragraph essay simplifies the writing process a lot because you can:

But, is there an answer to that question of how many words you should write? We know that any essay is better to be not too long and not too short, but here, we will try to find a precise solution. Many things matter when you work on an academic essay . Hence, it is useful for one to take them into consideration while working on a 5-paragraph assignment.

First, you must understand that usually, the standards related to the number of words or pages in your writing aren't strict. Even when you are told how long your paper is meant to be, minor fluctuations (up to 10 percent of the required length) are tolerated by almost every professor. But let us consider this issue in more detail.

5 Paragraph Essay Word Count

A lot depends on the instructions provided by your professor - it is the guidance you should look through in search of the answer to that main question. Still, we can reflect on how many words in a 5 paragraph essay is a minimum. Typically, five-paragraph writing consists of:

Your first (intro) paragraph also has particular features and consists of:

Thus, it makes five sentences, and for the rest of the paragraphs, you will also have five sentences in each as a minimum. Now, it makes five paragraphs times five sentences each - twenty-five . Then, it is recommended for your sentences to be no longer than ten words unless it is necessary. But here, stay vigilant because using too short ones is not appropriate for academic writing either. That means those ten words is a reasonable average length. Now, twenty-five sentences times ten words makes 250 words or a double-spaced page. But that is only the minimum size, and you ought to look carefully in your professor's requirements for the answer or any specifications. If those of your high school or college professor don't provide important guidelines, we recommend asking your instructor directly and be confident about following appropriate standards.

There are many tutorials on essay writing , including our post, that can answer the question "how many words should a typical 5 paragraph essay be." However, variations in length can be significant. If you are writing an extended essay, it can be up to ten pages long, and it is unlikely for such a lengthy paper to have only five sections. But, you are to follow the structure. For instance, each argument may be represented by two or three paragraphs, or there may be more than just three arguments to consider. A lot also depends on the type of essay and writing prompt you are working on.

We strongly recommend you revise an essay that is shorter than 250 words unless such a length is required by your professor. To lengthen your assignment, reread the writing and each body paragraph of it. May be, there are some unanswered questions, discussing which will add some words to your text. Sometimes, it is hard to come up with five paragraphs of classical structure within such a short format. Thus, we would like to emphasize it once more. The absolute minimum size for a five-paragraph essay is 250 words or one double-spaced page, typed in standard 12 points font.

Keep in mind that if you have any questions, it is always better to clarify them with your professor before starting the actual writing. If you need professional support, you can also contact our agents and request an expert who will provide you with a relevant custom assignment . On WiseEssays.com , we can meet any requirements of yours! If you doubt how many words should your 5 paragraph essay be, entrust that issue to us. We are ready to offer you the best academic assistance on the web and guarantee the result you need.

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Word limits and assignment length

Assignment length requirements are usually given in terms of numbers of words.

Unless the lecturer tells you that these limits are strict, it is normally acceptable to be 10% above or below this word limit (so, for example, a 2000 word assignment should be between 1800 and 2200 words). If the assignment uses the words “up to” (as in “up to 2500 words”) that usually means that you cannot go above the limit.

Use the tool below to calculate the acceptable range for an assignment (based on +/- 10%).

Unless the lecturer tells you otherwise, the word limit does not include ‘administrative’ sections of the assignment: the cover or title page, table of contents, table of figures, reference list, list of works cited, bibliography, or any appendices.

The word limit that you are given reflects the level of detail required . This means that if your assignment is too long, you're either taking too many words to explain your point or giving too many / too detailed examples. If your assignment is too short, either there is more to the answer than you have written or the assignment has not gone into enough detail about the answer.

If you are often over the word count you should look at your writing style. See writing concisely for more.

Explain your argument fully

Look for the ‘hidden’ answer

Flesh it out

Page authorised by Director - Centre for Learner Success Last updated on 12 December, 2018

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  1. How Long is an Essay? Guidelines for Different Types of Essay

    In some cases, you are allowed to exceed the upper word limit by 10% - so for an assignment of 2500-3000 words, you could write an absolute maximum of 3300 words. However, the rules depend on your course and institution, so always check with your instructor if you're unsure.

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    If the word count allowance was specified as 5% instead, then would mean that your paper needs to between 1,900 words to 2,100 words in length. On the other hand, if there is no specific note about such an allowance range in the assignment requirements file, try to check the module outline file since it may be given there instead.

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