How Long Is an Essay? The Ultimate Essay Length Guide

It’s safe to say that most students struggle with the word limit within an essay. Sometimes, it’s hard to find ideas for a text and meet the word requirement for every part of the paper. With so many factors influencing essay length, it’s easy to get confused.

The picture enumerates the factors influencing essay length.

Luckily, our custom-writing team has your back. In this article, our custom-writing experts will answer all your questions regarding essay length. We will also help you write papers with an ideal number of words!

📜 Is Essay Length Important?

Often, the phrase “word limit” causes panic among students. After all, if an essay is too long or too short, your grade will be lowered. However, in reality, there’s nothing to worry about. When it comes to words, limitations are beneficial for both the students and the professors.

Let’s see what exactly it means.

Many people believe that the longer an essay is, the better. However, according to Frontiers, research shows that it’s a bias that couldn’t be further from the truth. A perfect-length paper is one that allows students to express their ideas and showcase their knowledge fully while keeping it clean and simple.

What Influences Essay Length

Various factors determine the length of an essay. Here are the most important ones:

Topic Some themes may require more explanations and supporting ideas to prove a point or convey a message to the reader. 
Subject For instance, if your topic is related to literature, you might need more words and descriptions to get the point across. Subjects such as science or management typically require shorter papers. 
Academic level Usually, the more advanced the students are, the more complex their papers get. For example, high school essays differ from ones for college and university in terms of length and presentation.
Type of essay Students may be asked to write various types of essays—such as short, extended, narrative, or persuasive—throughout their careers. The essay’s type reflects in both its outline and length. 

Let’s start with the essentials. Usually, assignment length is given as a number of words rather than pages. Unless your supervisor or instructor mentions any specific limitations, it’s acceptable to be 10% below or above the word limit.

It’s also worth knowing the 80/20 rule. According to it, the body should constitute 80% of the text, while the intro and the conclusion take up the remaining 20%.

Keep reading to learn more about the recommended length of each essay part. The main numbers are shown in the table below:

Introduction Length 3-5 sentences (50-80 words)
Body Paragraph Length 5-8 sentences (80-200 words)
Number of Body Paragraphs 3-5 paragraphs
Conclusion Length 3-5 sentences (50-80 words)

How Long Should an Introduction Be?

An introduction is the first section and the face of your essay. For that reason, it needs to be compelling and well-thought-out. Usually, it consists of 3 to 5 sentences or 50 to 80 words.

An introduction must have a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. While the attention grabber and the thesis are usually brief, you may need 2 to 3 sentences for the background. To avoid going overboard, try to stay on topic and don’t add any filler.

How Long Is a Body Paragraph in an Essay?

The length of a body paragraph may vary. Sometimes, it can be limited to a single sentence. In other cases, it may take up a whole page. Usually, it’s recommended to have between 80 and 200 words (5-8 sentences) per body paragraph.

Since the paper’s body contains the most information, it’s necessary to explain and support your ideas properly. That’s why it’s no big deal if your body paragraphs go slightly over the word limit.

How Many Body Paragraphs Should Be in an Essay?

Like the word count, the number of paragraphs is determined by the type of paper and its topic. The minimum is 1. Generally, however, the body consists of 3-5 paragraphs, 1 for each argument.

To improve your paper’s structure, ensure that there are as many paragraphs as there are points in your thesis statement. Each one should have a purpose and support your arguments. If there’s any fluff, it’s better to get rid of it.

How Long Should a Conclusion Be?

Like the introduction, the conclusion consists of 50-80 words. It’s essential to keep it simple and only mention the central ideas. A weak concluding sentence may affect the reader’s understanding of the topic and spoil the overall impression of your paper.

🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer: Best Tips

Undoubtedly the essay’s content is more important than the number of words you use. But there are times when students go more than 10-15% below or over the limit. Is there a solution to this problem?

Yes, there is! In this section, we will share the most useful tips to help you stay on point with your paper’s word count.

How to Make Essays Longer

Since having enough words is essential for a good grade, we’ve collected the best tips that can help you lengthen your essay without teachers noticing:

  1. Use relevant quotations. You don’t need to litter your essay with citations, but using them whenever appropriate is a great idea. For instance, if you’re working on a book analysis, referencing a couple of direct quotes from the source text will make your essay more credible and increase the word count.

Example:

Original  Revision 
In Indian culture, hair symbolizes self-respect, a sense of belonging, and pride. In Indian culture, hair symbolized self-respect, a sense of belonging, and pride: ”Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy.” 
  1. Give examples. Go through the claims in your paper and provide additional evidence where possible. It will make your essay longer and more informative.

Example:

Original  Revision 
Directors considered the dark side of speed, driving, mobility, and all the other icons associated with the road. Directors considered the dark side of speed, driving, mobility, and all the other icons associated with the road. Some well-known examples are movies such as Motorcycle Accident (1969), Orange Car Crash 14 Times (1963), and Foot and Tire (1963-64).  
  1. Use transitional expressions. Adding transition words and phrases is a natural way of increasing the number of words. It will also improve your essay’s readability. 

Example:

Original  Revision 
The book’s author believes this is just a general misconception. However, the book’s author believes this is just a general misconception. 
  1. Add more references. Providing references is always a good idea when writing a formal essay. That way, you will increase the number of words and make your paper more credible.

Example:

Original  Revision 
It is believed that writing, reading, or reciting poetry positively affects our psychological well-being. According to another article published in the Journal of Poetry Therapy in 2014, the practice of writing, reading, or reciting poetry positively affects our psychological well-being. 
  1. Work on your descriptions. If you struggle to develop new ideas, go over what you’ve already written and consider adding some descriptive words. It’s a great idea for creative essays to include more imagery. 

Example:

Original  Revision 
They believe that language is more than a communication tool and should be introduced in a playful way for most effectiveness.  They believe that language is more than a simple day-to-day communication tool and that it should be introduced in a pleasurable and playful way for the most effectiveness.  

How to Shorten an Essay

Another struggle of academic writing is cutting down the number of words in your essay to meet a set limit. We are here to tell you that it’s not that hard. Writing straightforwardly and keeping your sentences short is a key to concise content. Here are several strategies you may use to tighten a lengthy essay:

  1. Choose the active voice. It takes up less space than passive voice. Using it also makes your writing more professional and compelling.

Example:

Original Revision
The research was conducted by BlossomNews. BlossomNews conducted the research. 
  1. Remove needless transitions. Transitions can indeed maintain the flow of the paper. But some transitional phrases can be easily removed.

Example:

Original Revision
Furthermore, it has been discovered that children who play violin have stronger visual and verbal pattern abilities. Discoveries show that children who play violin have stronger visual and verbal pattern abilities.
  1. Get rid of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. Some students tend to overuse adjectives and adverbs. It adds wordiness to their writing.

Example:

Original Revision
The whole article focuses on the mechanics of easily managing fear itself. The article focuses on the mechanics of managing fear itself. 
  1. Avoid running starts. Some students like to start their sentences with long phrases like: “there are,” “it is believed,” or “the fact that.” Getting rid of them makes texts much more concise.

Example:

Original Revision
The fact that the dialogue contains some Shakespearean elements emphasizes the protagonist’s longing for his lover.  Shakespearean elements in the dialogue emphasize the protagonist’s longing for his lover. 
  1. Delete “that.” In most cases, the word “that” can often be easily removed from texts.

Example:

Original Revision
The idea that was expressed in the novel translated well into the live-action movie. The idea expressed in the book translated well into the live-action movie.

Another cool trick is to use our summarizing tool as essay shortener. Try it out!

📑 How Long Is an Essay Depending on Formatting?

As we mentioned earlier, the essay’s length is usually limited by the number of words. But sometimes, a teacher may ask you to write a specific number of pages. This is trickier because the amount of text you can place on the page depends on the formatting. By using the font size and spacing properly, it’s possible to make the paper visually longer or shorter. Let’s discuss it in more detail.

The picture describes how formatting affects essay length.

Essay Spacing: How Does It Affect the Length?

  • Adjusting the spacing between lines. Try to make the changes as slight as possible. For instance, if you were asked to double-space the paper, use 2.1 or 2.2 spacing instead. Another option is to slightly extend spaces between paragraphs.
  • Extending the margin size. You can increase the right and bottom margins by a quarter to make very subtle changes in length. For example, if the margins are 1 inch, you can set them at 1.25 inches instead. 
  • Increasing the spacing between characters. It is less noticeable than the line spacing. Still, try not to overdo it and keep the numbers between 1.2 and 1.5. 
  • Adjusting the footer. Add a footer with page numbers to stretch the bottom margin even further.
  • Lengthening the header. You can extend your header by adding your name, e-mail address, or other relevant information. Another option is double-spacing it.

Length of an Essay: Font and Size

  • Using the right type of font. If your instructor didn’t specify which font you should use, go for the bigger ones. We suggest Arial, Bangla Sangam MN, Cambria, or Quicksand. They will make your text look longer without being too on the nose.  
  • Using a bigger font size. This is another technique that can come in handy. However, be careful and don’t increase your font by more than 0.1-0.5 pt.
  • Increasing the size of periods and commas.This is one of the less noticeable tricks you can use. For instance, if your paper’s font is 12 pt., increase it to 14 pt. only for punctuation marks. Italicizing periods and commas will also add several lines of length to your essay. 

What to Do if There Are No Length Guidelines

Sometimes a teacher sets no word limit for a written work. What to do in that case? Well, first, you can ask your professor to confirm if they have simply forgotten to mention it. But if that’s not the case, here are a couple of helpful solutions:

  1. Think of the paragraph number. Sometimes, you may be given the number of paragraphs instead of words. In that case, you can decide on the number of words depending on how many paragraphs you have. 
  2. Think about the topic’s complexity. The length of your paper is also directly dependent on the theme. If the topic is simple, 4-5 paragraphs will be enough. A more complex issue may require an in-depth explanation, so your essay can be 6-8 paragraphs long.

❓ Essay Length for Different Academic Levels FAQ

How long is an essay in elementary school?

The length of the elementary school essay is usually short. Usually, a paper needs to have around 3-5 paragraphs, with 4-5 sentences per paragraph. Primary school essays can be 1-2 paragraphs long.

How long is an essay in middle school?

The word limit for a middle school essay is usually between 300 to 1000 words. The most common essay length is 500 words, which is about 5 paragraphs. However, it may differ from school to school.

How long is a high school essay?

The length of the high school essay may differ depending on the school and the complexity of the task itself. Usually, however, a paper can be between 300 to 1000 words long.

How long is an undergraduate-level essay?

The length of the undergraduate college essay often falls within the range of 1500 to 2100 words. It translates into roughly 5-7 pages. 5 pages is the most common essay length at this level.

How long should an essay be at a graduate college level?

When it comes to the graduate school admission essay, the word limit is usually between 500 and 1000 words. It’s possible to go slightly over or below the set limit; however, it’s best to stick to the requirements as close as possible.

📚 How Long Should an Essay Be: Different Types

Now, let’s talk about different types of essays. How long should they be? Keep reading to learn about the length of college essays, short and extended ones, scholarship essays, and research papers.

How Long Is a College Essay?

When it comes to a college essay, it’s more important to stick to the word limit than with any other paper. Some teachers may refuse to read it unless it meets all the requirements.

The shortest limit for a college essay is about 250 words which is the shortest length of a Common App personal statement. It’s also rare to see a good college essay with over 650 words. So, an average piece usually has between 150 and 650 words; you can go over or below the limit by 50.

How Long Is a Paragraph in College Essays?

A college essay usually consists of 4-5 paragraphs. One paragraph takes about 1/3 of the page, which is roughly 5 sentences. Each sentence corresponds with one of the following components:

  1. Topic sentence.
  2. Explanation.
  3. Examples.
  4. Analysis.
  5. Transitions.

College Essay Length Requirements: Top 5 Schools

To understand the requirements for a college application essay even better, take a look at the table below. It showcases the top 5 schools and their length criteria for personal statements. Keep it in mind when writing your college essay:

HBS essay length 900-word limit
UC essay length 350-word limit
Chicago Booth essay length 300-word limit
UChicago essay length 650 suggested word limit
AMCAS essay length 5300 characters (spaces included)

How Long Is a Short Essay?

A short essay is usually 500 words long. Using 12pt Times New Roman font with standard margins and double spacing should result in about 2 pages of text.

Extended Essay Length

An extended essay is different from a short or a standard one. It requires extensive research and thorough explanation. That’s why the upper limit for this kind of essay is 4000 words. In this case, a typical essay length is 3500 words or 18 paragraphs.

Scholarship Essay Length

Generally, scholarship papers have a limit of 500 words, which is 1 page in length. Most scholarship programs provide additional requirements that indicate the minimum number of words or pages. If there are no set limitations, you can stick to the limit.

How Long Is a Research Paper?

Typically, a research paper is between 4000 and 6000 words long. Sometimes, there are shorter papers, which have around 2000 words, or in-depth ones with over 10000 words.

⭐ Other Aspects of Essay Length

When it comes to essay length, many different aspects come into play. Here, we’ve gathered all the essential information regarding an essay’s number of pages, paragraphs, words, and references.

How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay?

Sometimes, it is more convenient to count paragraphs rather than words. Let’s now figure out how many paragraphs are in essays of different lengths. You may also check out the examples to see what such an essay looks like:

How to Count Paragraphs in an Essay Based on Word Count

You can also count the number of body paragraphs for your essay using the formula below:

Number of body paragraphs (average) = (TWC – TWC*0.16)/100

  • TWC – total word count
  • 0.16 – an average percentage of total word count for introduction and conclusion
  • 100 – an average number of words per paragraph

How Many Pages Are in an Essay?

The number of pages in your essay may vary from subject to subject. But it’s still possible to determine the number of pages based on word count. Check out the numbers below to see the conversions with bonus examples:

Pages (Double-spaced) Example
How many pages is a 200-word essay? 1 Food Safety: A Policy Issue in Agriculture Today
How many pages is a 250-word essay? 1 Diabetic Nutritional Plan For a 15-Year-Old Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Patient
How many pages is a 300-word essay? 1 The Major Causes of the Great Depression
How many pages is a 400-word essay? 1,5 Technology and Dating: Social Media and Committed Relationships 
How many pages is a 500-word essay? 2 Aspects of Child Adoption
How many pages is a 600-word essay? 2 Single-Parent Families: Source Analysis
How many pages is a 700-word essay? 2,5 CytoGainer Overview: Purpose and Results
How many pages is a 750-word essay? 3 Modeling Sustainable Food Systems
How many pages is a 800-word essay? 3 Nutritional Supplements, Weight Loss Plans and Working Out
How many pages is a 900-word essay? 3,5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Biotechnology in Improving the Nutritive Value of Foods
How many pages is a 1000-word essay? 4 Prerequisites of Cold War During Yalta Conference
How many pages is a 1500-word essay? 6 College Students’ Weight Gain and Its Causes
How many pages is a 2000-word essay? 8 Advocacy Campaign: the Problem of Childhood Obesity

You can also use a specialized calculator such as Word Counter to determine a number of pages in your essay.

What Does an Essay Look Like when Typed?

You might be wondering: what do essays of different lengths look like when typed? Well, here’s the table where you can find out the metrics for single- and double-spaced papers.

Single-spaced Double-spaced Example
What does a 200-word essay look like? 0,5 pages 1 page How Hate Took Hold of Him: Parrish Reflection
What does a 250-word essay look like? 0,5 pages 1 page What Social Factors Prevent Adolescents to Acquire Appropriate Education in Their Later Life
What does a 300-word essay look like? 0,5 pages 1 page “Racial Inequality, at College and in the Workplace” by Johnson
What does a 500-word essay look like? 1 page 2 pages Bullying: A Serious Social Problem
What does a 600-word essay look like? 1 page 2 pages “8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up” by Jason DeParle
What does a 750-word essay look like? 1,5 pages 3 pages Methods for Avoiding Relapse
What does a 1000-word essay look like? 2 pages 4 pages Heroin Distribution and Its Use Within the United States
What does a 2000-word essay look like? 4 pages 8 pages Antebellum Period Southerners and Slavery

How Many Pages Are in a Handwritten Essay?

In case you need to turn in a handwritten paper, you should check out the table below.

How many pages is 150 words handwritten? 0,5
How many pages is 200 words handwritten? 1
How many pages is 250 words handwritten? 1
How many pages is 300 words handwritten? 1,25
How many pages is 350 words handwritten? 1,5
How many pages is 400 words handwritten? 1,5-2
How many pages is 500 words handwritten? 2
How many pages is 600 words handwritten? 2
How many pages is 700 words handwritten? 2,5
How many pages is 800 words handwritten? 3
How many pages is 1000 words handwritten? 4

Counting Words in a Handwritten Essay

If you don’t have enough time to count the words in your handwritten essay one by one, here’s what you can do:

  1. Count how many words there are in one line. Take the first and last lines and a line in the middle of a page. Let’s say there are 15, 14, and 15 words in them. Then, the average number of words per line is 15.
  2. Next, count how many lines there are on one page. Let’s say there are 17 lines on a page.
  3. Take the number of words per line and multiply it by the number of lines per page. In our case, we multiply 15 by 17. So, there are 255 words per page on average.
  4. Finally, multiply the number of words per page by the number of pages. If your essay has 3 pages, it is approximately 765 words long.

How Long Does it Take to Write an Essay?

It is crucial to know how long writing will take you, especially if you are working on an exam essay or just short on time. Note that you need to consider the time for typing and researching necessary to complete a piece. Research time may vary. Usually, it’s 1-2 hours for 200-250 words.

The picture shows the fact about the average speed of writing.

Below, we’ve gathered the average writing time for average and slower writing speed:

Time (Slow) Time (Average)
How long does it take to write 250 words? 50 min 6.3 min
How long does it take to write 300 words? 60 min 7.5 min
How long does it take to write 500 words? 100 min 12.5 min
How long does it take to write 750 words? 150 min 18.8 min
How long does it take to write 800 words? 160 min 20 min
How long does it take to write 1000 words? 200 min 25 min
How long does it take to write 1200 words? 240 min 30 min
How long does it take to write 1500 words? 300 min 37.5 min
How long does it take to write a 2000-word essay? 400 min 50 min

And here are the results in pages:

Time (Slow) Time (Average)
How long does it take to write a 2-page paper? 200 min 25 min
How long does it take to write a 3-page paper? 300 min 37.5 min
How long does it take to write a 4-page paper? 400 min 50 min
How long does it take to write a 5-page paper? 500 min 62.5 min
How long does it take to write a 6-page paper? 600 min 75 min
How long does it take to write a 7-page paper? 700 min 87.5 min

How Many References Does an Essay Need?

Another essential part of any composition is the reference list. Different academic levels require different references. You’ll find out how many of them should be in your paper in the table below!

School College Bachelor Master Ph.D.
How many references in a 200-word essay 2 3 4 5 6
How many references for a 500-word essay 4 6 8 10 12
How many references for a 1000-word essay 8 12 16 20 24
How many references for a 1200-word essay 10 15 20 25 30
How many references in a 1500-word essay 12 18 24 30 36
How many references for a 2000-word essay 16 24 32 40 48
How many references for a 4000-word essay 32 48 64 80 96
How many references for a 5000-word essay 40 60 80 100 120

📝 Essay Examples: Different Length

Finally, we’ve gathered some excellent sample essays of different lengths. Make sure to check them out!

We also recommend you check out our free essay samples sorted by pages:

Now you know all about essay length, word limits, and ways to lengthen or shorten your text. If you know other interesting tricks, make sure to share them in a comment! Good luck with your writing assignments!

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🔍 References

This article was developed by the editorial team of Custom-Writing.org, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
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