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How To Lengthen Essays

When you have an essay assignment with a minimum word count, one of the worst feelings is when you believe you have finished only to find that you’re still well below the minimum you have to reach (as opposed to having too many words). Many students try to solve this problem by rewriting the essay’s sentences to make them wordier or splitting contractions. While these do increase word count, they usually make the essay weaker in the process. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to increase the number of words for an essay, below are some simple techniques which can help you add to your writing while improving it instead of writing unneeded filler.

Add Examples

Skim through your essay looking for any place you have used an example to make a point. In most cases, you should be able to provide additional examples which will make your essay stronger by showing your understanding of the topic while also increasing the word count. You can also go through the essay and look for statements made where inserting an example would be appropriate to help support the statement.

Address Different Viewpoints

An effective way of increasing word count and improving your essay at the same time is to address different viewpoints to your own. You have the opportunity to discuss how these alternative viewpoints differ from the conclusions you have made, and it gives you an opportunity to explain why you believe your conclusions are superior. This shows you have considered a range of different opinions while coming to your conclusions, and in doing so make your essay stronger while adding more words.

Clarify Statements

When you find the statements in your writing, if inserting an example doesn’t make sense, then clarifying the statement may be appropriate. This can be achieved by inserting one or more specific statements to clarify the original one. A common way to do this is to follow the statement with, “In other words…” It’s important not to over-clarify statements or use this for every statement you write as it will begin to look like filler, but using it sporadically throughout your essay can increase the word count and show you perfectly understand the points you’re trying to make.

Find Additional Sources

Another way to improve your essay and increase word count is to find additional sources you haven’t previously mentioned which support the statements and conclusions you have made. The more sources you have, the stronger the essay will be in most cases. Spending some time searching for additional sources to add to the essay can be a great way to add quality content to it.

Use Quotations

Chances are you already have appropriate quotations in your essay, and if that’s the case, skip over this suggestion. Adding more will likely not add to your essay. If you haven’t used any, however, finding appropriate quotations from experts in the field that support your statements can be an excellent way to add words to your essay while improving it at the same time.

Rework Introduction and Conclusion

If all of the above haven’t enabled you to reach your word count minimum and you need some filler, look to put it in your introduction and conclusion rather than the body of the essay. Most teachers give more leeway with the introduction and conclusion to be wordy than the guts of the essay. This is something you should try to avoid if at all possible (it’s never good to be wordier than you have to be), but if you tried everything else, it’s better to do it in these two places than in the heart of the essay.

Page Count

If you’re writing an essay which has a minimum page count instead of a minimum word count, the above suggestions will work, but you have a bit more wiggle room as well. You can make slight adjustments to the font and font size you use through a Words per Page Counter. As long as you don’t go overboard, this can be a relatively easy way to increase page count while not taking away from the essay.

(Photo courtesy of Caleb Roenigk)

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    Spell out numbers less than ten. For example, spell out one and two instead of using the numerals. This will not only make your essay longer, but it will also look more professional since it is a requirement in formal writing.[11]

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    Write out contractions. Write out contractions wherever possible to increase the length of your essay. For instance, instead of using “it’s,” write, “it is," or instead of using "can't," write, "cannot." It will also make your essay appear more formal.[12]

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    Minimize pronouns. Wherever possible, use specific names instead of pronouns. For example, instead of writing “they,” write, “Angela, Mark, and Tony.” However, use pronouns when writing out names becomes too wordy. Wordiness can detract from the readability and quality of your paper.[13]

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    Include supporting material. Adding quotations, anecdotes from personal experience, and paraphrasing research are strategies you can use to lengthen your essay. However, make sure the supporting material is relevant and strengthens the points you are trying to make.[14]
    • Additionally, if you are quoting or paraphrasing research or literature, make sure to cite it properly. Citations can add extra length to a paper as well.
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    Ensure that each paragraph has a topic and a concluding sentence. Introduce the paragraph with a topic sentence. This sentence should state your argument. Provide supporting evidence. Then conclude the paragraph by summarizing the points you just made, or by restating your opinion.[15]

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    Be as descriptive as possible. Instead of saying, "The painting was red,” say, "The magnificent piece of art was full of vibrant, warm colors such as red, brown and mahogany.” In addition to lengthening your essay, you may give off the impression that you're truly passionate about the topic.[16]
    • However, try to avoid being descriptive when it is unnecessary since this may cause your paper to appear embellished or sound verbose.
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    Draw out your conclusion. Conclusions don't have to be limited to one paragraph. Start your conclusion with a paragraph that simply summarizes your paper. Add a second paragraph that makes a final point about your thesis and how it can be applied to contexts outside of your paper.[17]

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