Just about all the advice on the first page of google about how to make a paper longer sucks. No, really. The tricks they suggest suck so bad I can’t believe how bad it sucks.
Most advice on how to make your essay longer tells you to do gimmicky things that will lose you marks.
How do I know? Because I read it. And I (yes, I’m a professor) would instantly see through all those things.
Let me tell you: if you’re wasting time turning “15” into “fifteen” to get an extra 6 characters into your essay, increasing font size, or sticking fluffy adjectives into sentences to make your essay longer and increase word count, you’re stuffing up. You’re flushing marks down the drain.
So, here’s what you SHOULD do to make your essay longer.
How to Make an Essay Longer
1. Make sure you Included Everything
I can’t tell you how many of my students submit assignments and forget to include important points! Go back to your writing prompt. That’s the thing that you’re going to be graded on.
Go and check out exactly what your teacher asked you to write about. Did you write about every point they suggested?
Related Article: 17+ Great Ideas For An Essay About Yourself
2. Make Every Paragraph at least 4 Sentences
Scan over each paragraph. Do you have any paragraphs that are less than 4 sentences long? This is your low-hanging fruit for making your paper longer. You need to make these paragraphs longer and your page count will naturally increase.
The best paragraphs should be 4 – 7 sentences long.
If you’ve got a 1, 2 or 3 sentence paragraph, make sure you go back through it. What new points can you include to make your paragraph better? Maybe you can:
- Add a sentence at the start of the paragraph explaining what the paragraph is about;
- Add a sentence giving a real-life example of the points you’re trying to make
- Add a sentence giving an explanation of your points.
Or, you can try adding points explaining:
- Why the thing is true;
- Where the thing happened;
- How the thing happened;
- When the thing happened.
3. Define your Terms
Have you written a paragraph defining your key terms? If you’re writing an essay on modernism, write a paragraph defining modernism. If your essay is about education, write a paragraph giving a brief history of education. This will make your paper better – and longer!
You should have a paragraph or two right after your introduction defining and explaining what your topic is!
Now, if you are going to provide a definition for a term in college or university level writing, you need to read this article. In it, I show you how to write a full paragraph that defines a term in the right way using a research paper, not a dictionary!.
4. Get new Ideas from your Class Handouts
Below are the class handouts that you should go back through to add new ideas. They’re your most important sources. Go through all these sources and try to take down and more key points you can add:
- Handouts or worksheets in class?
- Readings or articles that they asked you to read?
- Lecture slides?
6. Get new Ideas from Friends
You will have many classmates working on the same essay as you. What ideas have your friends come up with? See if you can find out. You want it to seem like you’re working to help each other out. You don’t want to be a sponge, taking from them and not giving back. Help each other out so you both get better marks. I recommend being strategic about this:
- Offer to look over each others’ work and give suggestions;
- Trade key points in bullet point format;
- Brainstorm together to create a master list of key ideas.
8. Get new Ideas from Blogs
There are websites online about just about every topic that you can possibly imagine. That includes the topic you’re writing your essay on!
Let me ask you a question: Why would you waste your time trying to add padding to old sentences to increase your word count when you can write new ones that will win more marks?
It’s really so simple – google your essay topic or question and see what comes up. What have other people said on the topic? What ideas can you grab from others and use for yourself? You can also get new ideas from Google Scholar, which can provide you with a free to access research paper that will give you ideas as well.
12. Use the Keep Writing Website
Keep Writing is a website where you can write your essay. But, it won’t let you delete anything. So you have to just keep on typing. This means you can just write ideas that roll off the top of your head. I gave this website a go to write this article you’re reading right now and it really did help me just write in a way that flowed nicely and added to my page count quickly. I must admit, after using the website, I copied the text and did some edits. But by that point I had a ton of words in there – more than enough – and I could shorten the essay by deleting the words that weren’t so good. I ended up having the opposite problem – too many words!
13. Include one new Example in Each Paragraph
Another thing you can do is go through each and every paragraph and add one more example and some supporting evidence. Even if you’ve included one example in each paragraph, that’s okay. You can still add more examples. In fact, teachers love to see examples and supporting evidence.
Good examples are what separates good and bad students.
Teachers love to see examples because you can only give examples if you understand the topic. So, when we see examples we go “Yes! You Got It! You understand it!”
16. Don’t add Pointless Words!
‘Padding’ is what we call it when you stick extra words in a sentence just to increase your word count. I’ve taken a sentence from earlier in this post and I’m going to show you the sentence as it is, then show it to you with padding.
Here’s the original:
“You’re going to need some new points to add to your essay. You should not try to make your sentences you’ve already written longer. You shouldn’t be trying to add in fluffy new words or saying things in a longer way.”
Here’s the padding:
“You’re going to need some new points to actually add to your essay, which actually is quite significant. You should not actually try to generally make your sentences you’ve already written longer, generally contrary to popular belief. You shouldn’t be trying to generally add in fluffy new words or saying things in a longer way, which is fairly significant.”
Your teacher is going to read this and think “This student is a terrible writer.” And you’ll lose a ton of marks.
17. Don’t Change the Formatting
Increasing the line spacing, font size or character spacing will just make your paper worse. You should have ONE space between each word. Your line spacing should either be 2.0 or 1.5 spacing. That’s it. Those are your options. Stick to normal margins in Microsoft Word You should use font size 12. If you artificially change any of this, your teacher will see through it and grade you down.
Making an essay longer needs to be done in a way that will get you marks. I can’t believe that there are websites ranking high on google that recommend tricks like “make the space between lines bigger” and “increase your margins”.
If a student did that in my class, I’d fail them instantly. There are smarter and better ways to do it – whether you’re writing a grade 7 essay or dissertation chapter! Do it the right way and you’ll grow your marks and be on the way to success.
Chris Drew (PhD)
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.