how long is an essay

How Long Is An Essay? A Guide To Essay Length

Learn the length of six different essays and the factors that affect the essay length.

The length of an academic essay varies depending on your academic level, your field of study, your department’s policies, and the requirements of your particular course. In most cases, the length specifications are listed on your assignment sheet. It can be expressed as a range of words, paragraphs, or pages, or as a specific number.

In college, the majority of professors will provide you with a general outline of how long your essay should be. Please continue reading if you want to learn more about essay length.

How Long Is An Essay?

An essay is typically a brief composition that aims to be clear and concise. In the academic setting, essays can be useful in demonstrating your knowledge and in presenting an idea, but they are not as in-depth as a thesis or research paper.

A higher education assignment will typically include instructions on the expected number of pages or words. Typically, this will be a range, say between 2500 and 4000 words.

Verify the assignment’s specifics and any guidelines your teacher may have before you begin formulating a plan for “how to write my paper.” Here are a few quick reminders:

  • Every essay must have a beginning, a body, and a conclusion. This means that in order to cover everything, your essay must have at least three sections.
  • Typically, a basic paper will have a five-paragraph essay. The introduction and conclusion paragraphs in this essay are typically much shorter.
  • One of your essay’s main ideas should be covered in each body paragraph.

The best thing you can do when submitting an essay, whether it’s for a college application or an academic assignment, is to carefully read the instructions. Most of the time, you should gain a basic understanding of the word count required of you.

The fact that you don’t have to lengthen your essay to reach the highest number should be noted if you are given a “range” for your essay’s word count. Simply use the language you need to support your position. And here is the information about the essay length in 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade.

  • High school essay: 300-1000 words
  • Essay for college admissions: 250-650 words
  • Essay for college students in their first year: 1500-5000 words
  • Essay for graduate school admission: 500-1000 words
  • essays for graduate school: 2500-6000 words
how long is an essay

Essay Length Tips

The advice provided below is relevant to academic essays that are assigned as writing assignments. The following section will cover every topic related to admissions essays.

  • For essays, there should be a minimum of three paragraphs—an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
  • An essay with five paragraphs is the most typical format for a basic paper.
  • The opening and closing sentences are always proportionately shorter in length.
  • Only one main idea, which is your topic sentence, may be covered in each body paragraph.
  • About 275 words typically appear on a page of Times New Roman (12pt) text that is double-spaced.
  • Double that, or about 550 words, can fit on a single page.

How Long Are The Six Types Of Essays?

Here are the six types of essays you should know:

The One-paragraph Essay

The one-paragraph essay, which is typically between 150 and 250 words in length, may be given by academic tutors simply as practice for the fundamentals of paragraph writing, or it may be used for specific purposes like practicing summarizing an article that has been read in class or writing an extended definition of a concept.

One-paragraph essays can be used as a diagnostic tool to quickly assess a student’s writing ability. For the one-paragraph essay, you must combine at least some of the introduction, body, and conclusion into a single paragraph, unlike other essay lengths.

The Three-paragraph Essay

The three-paragraph essay, which is typically 500 words long, is used to introduce students to the idea that all essays should have an introduction, a body section, and a conclusion if the writer wants to produce coherent and logical writing.

The first and last paragraphs will be the introduction and conclusion, which are typically a little shorter in length. The central body paragraph will contain the essay’s content or argument.

The Five-paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay is typically set by teachers who are satisfied that their students understand the introduction-body-conclusion essay structure and who want to give them more freedom to elaborate on the ideas and arguments the writer has presented in the body section of the essay. It is typically 1,000 words long.

With an essay of this length, the introduction and conclusion are still each given one paragraph, but the body of the essay can have three paragraphs devoted to the discussion of the theme. Now that the essay has reached this length, it is acceptable to use certain essay types, like cause and effect essays, and compare and contrast essays.

The Extended Essay

While it’s uncommon for such essays to be longer than 5,000 words, the extended essay is the most typical type of essay that’s assigned during a bachelor’s or master’s degree. It may be any length. With a plus or minus 10% word count tolerance, the most typical lengths for an extended essay are 1,500, 3,000, and 5,000 words.

Such essay types may also start to follow more complex structures, such as those found in dissertations and theses, rather than just adhering to the introduction-body-conclusion structure of shorter essays, which will undoubtedly require research and referencing skills.

The Dissertation

Generally assigned as the final project for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the typical length of an academic dissertation is 10,000 or 15,000 words. Unlike shorter essay types, dissertations have more complex structures and are almost always based on primary research (original research that the writer has conducted themselves).

The Thesis

Last but not least, the thesis is the longest style of academic essay and is only used by Ph.D. candidates. The doctorate thesis, which is typically between 40,000 and 60,000 words long, may include all the components of a dissertation, but in much greater detail and with more thorough research.

Such essays are almost certainly original and are based on primary research, with a larger focus on the accuracy of the literature review, data collection, and data analysis. Many students will never write an essay of this kind.

How Long Does Each Essay Section Need To Be?

Each paragraph in a short essay (400–1000 words) usually contains 100–200 words. Shorter than the total number of words in the body section, the introduction and conclusion should be about the same length.

For a 1000-word essay, the introduction and conclusion should each be 4–5 sentences long, according to Jennifer Duncan from The Writing Centre at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. The length of these sections can be several paragraphs or even entire pages if your word count must be higher.

how long is an essay

You may have seen conversion charts that state, “This number of words equals this number of paragraphs.” They are all based on fixed paragraph lengths and are therefore not very accurate.

Yes, you can convert an essay that is 400–800 words long in this way. But, when your paper is bigger than a thousand words, your paragraphs can scale along, which means their number won’t grow exponentially with the overall essay size.

A long essay (2000 words) won’t necessarily have fifteen paragraphs, for example, if a 700-word essay has five paragraphs.

How Long Is The Introduction In An Essay?

Typically, your introduction, or first paragraph, is referred to as a hook. Here, you should catch the attention of the reader and introduce the topic of your essay. When choosing a length, keep it brief and sweet whenever possible.

It’s usually a good idea to do some planning ahead of time to make sure every section of your essay is the proper length. A seasoned essay writer will carefully read the instructions to make sure you comprehend the task.

Your essay’s complexity and depth should be apparent from the recommended word count. Give a high-level overview of your topic if your essay is only supposed to be a few paragraphs long. You can delve more deeply into the details in longer essays.

You must be as clear and concise with your argument as you can in short essays. When you’re given a higher word count, however, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to “waffle”. Follow the outline you create for your essay and stay on point.

When deciding how much information and support you should include in each section, an outline should serve as a road map.

How Long Is A Paragraph In An Essay?

As mentioned above, the answer to “how long should a college essay be?” usually starts with a base answer of “at least five paragraphs”. This makes it possible for you to introduce your thesis or commentary, follow it with three supporting paragraphs, and then end with a summary.

Your essay will have a range of paragraph lengths. In the majority of academic essays, the main body of the argument should occupy the majority of the paper. Here, you should develop your ideas and support them with examples.

Generally speaking, the introduction should match the essay’s overall length. The introduction can be one or two paragraphs long if your text is only about 3,000 words. A longer, more detailed introduction that provides background information and context may be necessary for complex essays.

A single paragraph should typically serve as your essay’s conclusion. A paragraph might not be enough to summarize everything you’ve said, especially if your paper is longer and more involved.

How Long Is The Conclusion In An Essay?

The last section of your essay is the conclusion. For shorter essays, it is typically one paragraph. In this section, you should restate the main ideas from the body and summarize your analysis. Depending on how long the essay is, the conclusion may be 300–700 words long.

How Long Is The Outline In An Essay?

For a university-level essay or argumentative essay, you’ll need a more thorough outline with the same elements as a simpler outline, but with more specifics that include evidence and justification for your supporting points. The length of an outline should be no longer than 1 to 2 pages.

What Influence An Essay’s Length?

The length of a typical essay is influenced by a variety of factors. The word count of your paper depends on

Academic Level

In terms of presentation and length, essays written for high school and primary grades differ from those written for universities and colleges. Before beginning an academic essay, it is crucial to read the guidelines for each level.


Depending on the subject, different essay length requirements apply. Long and short essays are common in papers in the humanities, social sciences, and law. The length of the long essays can be anywhere between 20 pages and 6 pages, double-spaced, while the short essays are between 500 and 875 words long.

Essay lengths can also vary depending on the instructor and the subject matter, including English literature, composition, linguistics, leadership, and business. You will see different length requirements for essays depending on the subject you are studying.


Departmental length requirements for essays vary between universities and colleges. The length requirements of the department should be understood because they can guide your decision regarding how many words to use in your essay.

Essay Prompt Or Tutor’s Instructions

The guidelines provided in the essay prompt are another important factor in determining the number of pages or words you must use. The essay prompt not only specifies the essay topics, but also how many words, lengths, or pages your essay should be.

Spacing Of The Sentences

Pages in a typical academic essay are double-spaced due to the essay’s typical structure. The essay instructions may, on occasion, demand that you write your essay using only single spaces.

how long are essays

A single-spaced page has about 550 words on it, compared to about 275 words on a double-spaced page. By this analogy, a single double-spaced page would have twice as many words as a single single-spaced page. An essay that is one page long and single-spaced contains the same number of words as an essay that is two pages long and double-spaced.

Other times, teachers will instruct students to write 1.5-spaced-line essays. The length of your essay in this situation should be determined by the word count per page.

As a result, even as you read the assignment instructions, pay attention to the kind of page spacing that your professor or instructor requires. The preferred word count, which is always plus or minus 10%, is made easier to stay within.

Fonts Used In The Essay Paper

Papers are typically written in font 12 for academic writing. Most academic institutions have adopted this size as the standard for essays.

Making the font larger results in more pages, but fewer words. Always write your essay using the font size and style suggested by the teacher in the essay prompt, given the wide variety of fonts available.

Paragraph Lengths And Formats

150 words or so would be considered a typical paragraph length. It will depend on how many pages you are writing and how many paragraphs you will have. For instance, as we shall see later, a 6-page essay with double spacing will contain a total of 1650–1800 words.

10% of the word count is allocated to the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, which means that they each have between 165 and 180 words. You will have the final word count to balance the paragraphs at your discretion because the other body paragraphs will split it.

Using Length As A Guide To Topic And Complexity

The suggested word count not only helps you determine how long your essay should be but also makes it easier for you to determine how much complexity and information you can fit into the available space.

The creation of your thesis statement, which establishes the parameters of your overall argument and identifies the primary subject of your essay, should be guided by this.

A focused, narrow topic and an obvious, unambiguous line of reasoning are requirements for a short essay. A longer essay should still have a clear focus, but it may also need to take a more comprehensive approach to the subject or make a more complex, ambitious argument.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of how much evidence, detail, and argumentation will be required to support your thesis as you create the essay’s outline.

Consider revising your thesis to be more general or more specific if you discover that you lack the ideas to fill out the word count or that you require more space to present your case effectively.

The amount of time you will need to spend editing and proofreading the essay will also depend on how long it is.

What To Do If My Essay Is Too Long Or Too Short?

It’s usually best to stick to the range you’re given if you’ve taken the time to determine how long your essay should be for high school or college. You should try to write an essay that is at least as long as what was asked of you in the assignment.

If you’re struggling to hit the suggested word count, you can consider:

  • To make your points stronger and more credible, add more examples, supporting data, and in-depth analysis to each paragraph.
  • Ensure that you thoroughly analyze and clarify each of your points without leaving any room for doubt.
  • additional research is being done in order to examine a subject from a different perspective.

Don’t add any filler to simply increase the word count. Aim to avoid becoming overly fixated on a particular number and stick to simple sentences whenever possible. Get as much useful information as you can into your essay—that’s the key.

Notably, just as you should reach at least the minimum word count, you should avoid exceeding the maximum word count. You may occasionally go 10% over the maximum word count. You might be able to use 3300 words for an assignment with a word count of up to 3000, but it’s best to double-check with your instructor to be sure.

If the additional words are irrelevant to your argument, exceeding your suggested word count won’t impress your professor. You should probably proofread your writing to make sure everything is accurate and as brief as possible.

Get rid of extraneous words and keep in mind that it will take longer for your instructor to grade an essay the longer it is.

Always strive to write your assignment for the minimum amount of time specified. In the event that you have trouble writing enough words:

  • To strengthen or clarify your points, include more examples and supporting data in each paragraph.
  • Aim to elaborate on your points more fully and make sure each example has been fully explained or analyzed.
  • In a new paragraph, elaborate on a different aspect of your subject. In order to make a more ambitious argument, you might need to revise your thesis statement.
  • Don’t use filler; doing so will weaken your essay and obscure your argument.
  • Keep your focus off on a precise figure. It’s more important that your argument is compelling and sufficiently developed for an essay of the advised length than whether you use 50 or 100 words to convince your reader of your point of view.

What Is The Ideal Essay Length For College?

Here, “college essays” imply essays written for admissions. Compared to the ones you write for homework, admissions essays are very different. They usually want to convince the committee that you are a deserving candidate.

how long are essays

The appropriate section of the college website should have all the information about such essays available to the public. However, you still have some options if you don’t know the word count requirement and can’t find it. Below is a quick answer to the “how long is a college essay” question.

An essay for college typically has 500 words.

Admissions Essay Length Tips

  • Once you open the college’s site, look for phrases like “essay questions,” “information about supplemental essays,” “application instructions,” etc.
  • Because board officers must read a large number of them every day, admissions essays are typically brief (250–600 words).
  • Keep the length within the specified range; for example, if it says 500–550 words, the maximum length would be 600.
  • Don’t go over the word limit because it might prevent someone from reading your essay all the way through.

What If There Are No Restrictions On Length?

College essay prompts occasionally don’t specify a maximum length. But don’t worry just yet; there are a number of ways to handle this circumstance.

A Sample Of Your Writing Must Be Submitted

Potential candidates may have a variety of options. Amherst College offers you two options: (Option A) compose a response to one of the quotations on the list, or (Option B) turn in a graded essay that best demonstrates your writing abilities.

The final option implies that your options are constrained by the number of words in the papers you can pick from. However, there is usually a page with instructions for paper sample submissions.

The Description Makes It Clear How Long It Should Be

Wellesley College does not specify a word count or a number of pages in the instructions for the essay prompt. Instead, it says, “in two well-developed paragraphs.” So, paragraphs can be as long as 450–500 words, which is a reasonable maximum. Therefore, this is when you’ll need to make an estimate or even a little guess.

You Must Look For The Length Specifications

It can happen that the essay length requirements are not listed on the same page as the prompts. But if you Google it, you can discover posts on social media sites and forums that cover these essay writing requirements.

You can also try searching “long” or “length” within the college site by typing “” with those words.

Call The Admissions Department Right Away

Call the admissions office if you can’t find the word limit guidelines anywhere. Even if they don’t have a precise figure, they can estimate the length of your essay based on the ones they have already read.

Why Is Adherence To Expected Essay Length Important?

Remember that the length of the essay the professor expects will vary depending on the student’s academic standing. Even if you are unsure of the precise word count requirements for an essay for a particular class or university course, follow the general guidelines.

The tutor may conclude that the student did not submit the assignment with sufficient effort if the student writes an essay that is shorter than anticipated.

In fact, if the essay has a large word count, the student may have added unnecessary information without doing proper analysis or used wordy constructions.

Conclusion: Polish Your Essay

Most assignments include explicit instructions on how many words or pages you are required to write. Instead of being a precise number, this is frequently a range (for instance, 2500–3000 words or 10–12 pages). Finding the ideal essay length can seem like a challenging process.

Fortunately, using the aforementioned advice, you ought to be heading in the right direction. Don’t forget to share this post if it helps you.


How Long is a Short Essay?

Short essays usually involve answering a question related to course content and could be anywhere from 200 words to 750 words long, depending on the professor’s guidelines. Writing a short essay can be difficult because you have to decide what information is most crucial to include and what can be skipped.

How Long is a 200-word Essay?

A 200 words essay will be 0.4 pages single-spaced or 0.8 pages double-spaced. 500 words make up one standard single-spaced page.

Is a 500 Word Essay Too Short?

In general, 500 words or so is pretty safe for a college essay. In fact, the word limit is pretty typical.

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