How to Write a Short Essay: Format & Examples

Short essays answer a specific question on the subject. They usually are anywhere between 250 words and 750 words long. A paper with less than 250 words isn’t considered a finished text, so it doesn’t fall under the category of a short essay. Essays of such format are required for personal statements where you need to write about yourself. It might seem easy, but it’s not half.

The picture provides introductory information about a short essay format.

Expressing and elaborating your idea within the given word limit is the most challenging part of the task. In this article, we’ll explain how to write a great short essay. If you’re working on one of your assignments and need help, keep reading to learn more!

📚 Short Essay Format

A short essay follows a standard essay structure: intro – main body – conclusion. You can be creative with the contents of your paper; however, it’s best to stick to the hamburger essay format when it comes to structure.

These are the benefits of having a standard essay structure:

  • You always have a template that can help you organize your thoughts.
  • You can estimate how many words each paragraph should include, making the writing process faster and easier.
  • You can get a high grade by simply following the instructions.

Below you’ll find more detailed information on how to organize each short essay section.


An essay introduction aims to grab the reader’s attention and provide essential background information. It sets the tone for the paper and presents the thesis statement, outlining the essay’s central argument. Here are a couple of advice on how to make your introduction work:

🪝 Start with a hook The hook holds greater significance than the title as it determines if readers will continue reading the paper. Captivate their attention by presenting a provocative question or an engaging joke that compels them to stay engaged with your writing.
Example: What happens to a car that falls from a bridge into a river?
📚 Add some background information Background information provides the context or basic facts about the topic better in two to three sentences. It helps readers understand the subject and prepares them for what will be discussed in the essay.
Example: It gradually fills with water and then goes to the bottom. But that is not the end, especially in case of casualties, since soon it will be pulled out.
✍️ Introduce your thesis statement A thesis statement presents the central argument or purpose of the essay. It acts as a roadmap for the reader, indicating the essay’s focus and position or perspective the writer will take.
Example: This essay describes the work of forensic divers and how they contribute to criminal investigation.

Body Paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, you present and develop the essay’s main points. Each section focuses on a specific idea related to the topic, providing evidence, examples, and analysis to support the overall thesis statement. Here’s the structure of a paragraph:

📢 Start with a topic sentence A topic sentence serves as a concise summary of the main idea of a paragraph. It provides the reader with a clear focus and establishes the direction of the paragraph. By presenting the main point upfront, the topic sentence helps guide the reader’s understanding and facilitates the organization of the following supporting details.
Example: Forensic divers recover evidence from underwater, no matter how little or big it is.
📊 Provide the evidence and give examples Supporting sentences provide additional information and evidence to support a paragraph’s main idea or argument. They offer explanations, facts, examples, or statistics that help to strengthen and clarify the preceding statement:
Example: They can find a knife used in a murder or spot a body of a drowned person. If the body is blocked in a submerged car, they will lift the entire vehicle onto the surface using special equipment.
↪️ Create a transition Transitions help readers navigate the progression of thoughts by signaling shifts in topic, introducing new points, or establishing relationships between different sections:
Example: However, more than the human eye and precise equipment are sometimes needed.


A summary aims to condense the key ideas and arguments presented in an essay, allowing readers to quickly grasp the essence of the paper without reading the entire content. A good summary should:

🌪️ Summarize the main ideas A summary acts as a recap, reinforcing the main message and the understanding of the topic:
Example: A criminal investigation may require the presence of forensic divers. It is diverse and includes finding physical evidence, the elevation of underwater vehicles, and finding corpses underwater.
📍 Restate the thesis statement A summary restates the thesis statement by briefly summarizing the main argument or central idea of the essay concisely, reminding the reader of the main point made throughout the essay:
Example: These experts often decide a criminal case’s destiny and help establish the guilt. That’s why their activity is so critical.
The picture provides a list of steps for writing a short essay.

📝 Short Essay Template

Use this easy template to quickly structure any short narrative, argumentative, or informative essay.


  • Hook: an intriguing fact, question, or statistic to grab your readers’ attention.
  • Background info: something that provides context.
  • Thesis statement: the purpose or central argument of your essay presented in one sentence.

Body Paragraphs

  • Topic sentence: a paragraph’s opening sentence that expresses its main idea.
  • Supporting sentences: evidence, facts, and examples supporting the topic sentence.
  • Transition: phrases or sentences that ensure coherence and cohesion in the essay, allowing for a clear and logical progression of information.


  • Summary: a brief recap and conclusion to an essay.
  • Restated thesis: a restatement of the main ideas and arguments.

✨ How to Write a Short Essay: Useful Tips

Each essay format has different requirements. Below are some tips to help you ensure you’re on the right track with the short essay format.

1. Follow the Short Essay Format

Mastering the format requirements is crucial, especially when writing a concise argumentative essay. While the five-paragraph structure may not be commonly found in literature, it holds great significance in academic writing for several reasons:

  • Adhering to this standardized template makes the writing process more manageable.
  • The clear guidelines facilitate reading, checking, and evaluation.
  • This format accommodates various essay types, allowing students to excel in most academic texts.

Each paragraph in the short essay format plays a distinct role, making it essential to include all components for a cohesive and impactful essay.

2. Make Your Introduction Meaningful

Here’s how you can make your introduction work:

  • When writing the opening paragraph of your essay, be very specific about your topic. It will help you sharpen your argument and clarify your intentions.
  • To avoid a generic introduction, consider providing an example of the evidence you will use to support your point.
  • Lastly, make sure to place your thesis statement as the concluding sentence of the paragraph, signaling to your readers where they can find the main point of your essay.

3. Write a Strong Thesis

Much has been said about the importance of a thesis statement, but crafting a persuasive one can be challenging. In a short essay, a strong thesis statement plays a crucial role. It summarizes the argument you intend to defend in your paper, setting the stage for your essay. Your thesis statement should be specific, intellectually rewarding by presenting new information, and decisive in expressing your opinion. Let’s take a closer look at some examples to illustrate these principles:

  • Specific. Say what you mean.
    • Bad example: There is a vast diversity of opinions regarding abortions. 
    • Good example: Every woman must have the right to control her pregnancy which means the right to control her own body, health, and life. 
  • Intellectually rewarding. Bring new information to your readers.
    • Bad example: Prisons can harm a convict’s further career. 
    • Good example: Imprisonment deteriorates a convict’s self-confidence and motivation, lowering their chances for new employment. 
  • Decisive. Express your opinion so that your readers know what to expect.
    • Bad example: Orphans become the beloved children in some families, while in others, they never become natives. 
    • Good example: This essay aims to confirm that the reasons why adopting families don’t accept children lie within the families’ unreadiness for change. 

4. Keep Your Introduction & Conclusion Concise

In the realm of short essay writing, brevity is the key. While it may be tempting to use abstract statements as hooks or delve into distant considerations in the conclusion part, keep an eye on the word count. With a maximum of 75 words each, the introduction elucidates the topic and conveys its significance, while the conclusion reiterates the main claim and reinforces the supporting evidence.

5. Make Topic Sentences from Your Thesis

When it comes to short essays, brevity extends to the main body as well. Typically comprising only 3 to 4 paragraphs, each of them focuses on a distinct aspect of the overall argument. To ensure clarity, we suggest splitting the thesis into multiple parts and transforming them into topic sentences for each paragraph. This structured approach will help you avoid confusion and make the paper more digestible for your readers. Additionally, this method simplifies crafting a well-rounded conclusion.

6. Refer to Reliable Sources

When tackling a short essay, it’s crucial to avoid baseless claims and instead focus on substantiating your arguments. Pay special attention to the sources you cite, as even the slightest inconsistency can catch the reader’s eye.

Enhance your essay’s credibility by incorporating several quotations or research-based facts, demonstrating your awareness of the topic. Even in the case of an in-class essay where extensive research may not be feasible, include relevant information or paraphrase passages you have previously encountered. Use indirect quotations if you can’t remember the exact wording.

7. Revise Your Short Essay

With a 500-word count, every word counts! Here are a few tips you may find helpful:

  • Take a moment to assess the length of your essay and eliminate any unnecessary words to ensure a faster and more polished result. Consider using our convenient summarizer to streamline your writing further.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to spot your own mistakes while proofreading the essay. Our essay-to-speech tool feature can help you identify weak points by reading your paper out loud. This auditory perspective can help you quickly identify and rectify any areas that require improvement.

✅ Short Essay Topics

Selecting an engaging and captivating topic is vital if you want to showcase your writing skills in a single short essay. Below are some examples to inspire your creativity. They’ll help you brainstorm and find the perfect topic that aligns with your interests and allows you to demonstrate your writing skills.

Short Narrative Essay Topics

  1. How I see a day in my adult life.
  2. Personal Experience in the Covert Conflict.
  3. A loss that will never be replenished.
  4. The Author’s Personal Experience.
  5. Describe how you would change the school program.
  6. Higher Education: Personality and Academic Success.
  7. What is the critical element of success?
  8. Photography: Hobby of Millions Unique for Everyone.
  9. My first love and lessons learned from it.
  10. Mindfulness Practicing: Personal Experience.
  11. The longest day of my life.
  12. Writing: Personal Hobby Analysis.
  13. A place to find peace in the hurricane of events.
  14. The Sports Coaching Guidelines and Routines.
  15. An eye-opening situation that changed the way I treat others.
  16. Innovation in Operation Management – Personal Experience.
  17. The worst trait of my character.
  18. Chapter 8 of “Criminology Today” by F. Schmalleger.
  19. How I met my best friend.
  20. Importance of Friendships.

Short Argumentative Essay Topics

  1. Social media can kill a relationship.
  2. Smoking in Public Places: Should It Be Banned?
  3. Animals should live in their natural habitats.
  4. Should People Be Ashamed of Poverty?
  5. Mandatory Overtime for Nurses Should Be Eliminated.
  6. The third wave of feminism is about to end with a half-victory.
  7. The Importance of Variability in the Food Industry.
  8. Gender Stereotypes: Should Real Men Wear Pink?
  9. Pharmacies: A big lie that costs a fortune.
  10. Police Standards Should Be Modified.
  11. Genetic cloning is immoral.
  12. Should Smoking Be Illegal?
  13. College Athletes Should Not Be Paid.
  14. We will never be equal because we are all different.
  15. Mandatory Job Drug Test Should Be Allowed.
  16. The best economic system has not been developed yet.
  17. Why Marriage Should Be Based on Love and Not Arranged?
  18. Reasons Why Kids Should Not Play Tackle Football.
  19. Owning a gun means you can be killed by chance.
  20. Should Social Media Be Banned?
  21. The non-family-friendly TV screen.
  22. Why Immigrants Should Receive Social Services?
  23. There’s a lot more sport about video games than we think.
  24. Should Children Be Taught Sex Education in School?

Short Informative Essay Topics

  1. How have video games affected modern technologies?
  2. Infidelity and Societal Impact on Family Values.
  3. Meaning of Life in “Half a Day” by Naguib Mahfouz.
  4. Sociological Research Evaluation: Effects of Parental Imprisonment on Children’s Social and Moral Aspects.
  5. Climate Change Impacts.
  6. Explain the importance of the Olympic Games for building intercultural links.
  7. The Importance of Strategic Management and Planning.
  8. The Network Strategy of USA Today.
  9. A prominent artist and their masterpiece.
  10. Organizational Vision and Its Importance for the Staff.
  11. How to develop reading habits that last.
  12. The Impact of Electronic Medical Records.
  13. New and Old Media: Form, Impact, and Accessibility.
  14. Declaration of Independence and Cultural Issues Today.
  15. How does alcohol impact the way we behave?
  16. The Importance of Diet Monitoring.
  17. Personal Philosophy of Nursing Care.
  18. Why do teachers need a study plan?
  19. The Introduction of a Four-Day Work Week.
  20. Journalist Profession, Its Pros and Cons.
  21. The role of capitalism in shaping our idea of democracy.
  22. Teju Cole Personality’s in Modern American Society.
  23. The Importance of Medical Ethics.
  24. Tell a story of a famous and successful startup.
  25. Power of Advertising: Good and Bad Balance’ Importance.
  26. Personal and Political Pacifism.
  27. The cultural importance of divination.
  28. Important Factors in Personal Investment.
  29. My way of organizing my daily schedule and staying productive.
  30. The Impact of “The Marrow of Tradition” on Future American Literature.
  31. Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”: Themes and Importance of the Book.

❓ Short Essay FAQ

What Is a Short Essay?

A short essay is an academic paper typically ranging between 200 and 750 words, providing a focused topic exploration. This type of essay follows a standard structure: intro-main body-conclusion, usually presented in a five-paragraph format.

How Long Is a Short Essay?

A short essay typically ranges from 200 to 750 words which can be covered in three to five paragraphs. This concise format translates to less than one page of typed content. However, it’s important to note that specific requirements may vary depending on the college, with some specifying a minimum of 150 words and a maximum of 650 words. Be sure to review the task instructions to ensure you meet the guidelines.

How Many Sentences Is a Short Essay?

In a short essay, the number of words is more important than the number of sentences. It means you can use any number of sentences as long as you stay within the required word limit. However, most of the time, a short essay consists of around 20 to 25 sentences.

How to Start a Short Essay?

An introduction needs to grab readers’ attention and provide some background information. It’s best to start your essay with a hook. However, be careful and add only the necessary information since your word count is limited.

🔗 References

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