21 Helpful and Easy Tips to Make an Essay Longer

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21 tricks to make an essay longer

When you're writing a school paper after researching and typing for what feels like ages, but you still haven't reached your teacher's required page count, it's normal to feel frustrated. Maybe you get a little creative and play Microsoft Word gymnastics with different fonts and spacing, or become super expressive with your descriptions. There's also a chance you missed something on the assignment rubric, or overlooked the opportunity to include more quotes from trusted sources. You might even be able to load up on a few more examples for your argument, easily boosting the word count with additional research. Still a couple pages behind the limit? Don't worry. Below, we have over 20 tips to help you hit that page requirement.

1. Make sure you included everything on the rubric. If you forgot a whole section focusing on the counter argument, that could be the reason why your paper is a couple pages shorter than needed.

2. Load up on transitional phrases. Your paper isn't long enough, therefore it may be necessary to add some transitional phrases because they take up space. On the other hand , this could make your paper really wordy, however , it may be necessary. See what I did there?

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3. Spell out your numbers. There are four editorial styles — AP, APA, MLA, and Chicago. Each one has a different rule for spelling out numbers, which can work out in your favor. For instance, in APA, you write out all numbers under 10. So a one-character "7" becomes a five-character "seven." In MLA, you spell out all numbers at the beginning of a sentence, and all simple numbers (those that are one or two words). Make sure to check the assignment rubric to see what style your paper should be written in!

4. Ditch the contractions. Honestly, you probably should not even be using contractions in a formal essay, so if you are filling up your paper with "don't," "won't," and "can't," switch them out for "do not," "will not," and "cannot."

5. Use numerous examples. Make sure to do extensive research on your essay topic and come up with at least 2-3 examples for every argument presented. One example might seem like enough, but adding a couple more points improves your paper and boosts its word count.

6. Add quotes. Including quotes, whether they be from a book, news article, or trusted source, helps strengthen and validate the point you're making in a paper. But you can't just drop a quotation without context. Introducing, writing out, and properly unpacking a quote can add value — and length — to your essay.

7. Start getting really descriptive about everything. How illustrative can you get about the evolution of electricity, you ask? Well, the answer is: Very. The howling wind gushed passed Benjamin Franklin at 30 miles per hour on that cold, rainy night, pulling the string of his kite taught as it fought to stay in the sky and sent his grey hair flying up in the sky like silvery wisps.

8. Try to make your header longer. If possible, of course. Some teachers clearly state what information needs to be included in the header. But if there's no guideline, add what you can within reason — I'm not sure your teacher is going to appreciate your TikTok or Insta handle listed on the page.

9. Have someone proofread. Getting another pair of eyes to read your paper might reveal some areas in need of work. Maybe you need to elaborate a bit more on a certain argument, or include a quote to strengthen an example.

10. Revisit your introduction paragraph. Sometimes, an introduction is easiest to write after the paper has been written. Having already presented and thoroughly discussed the argument in the essay's body paragraphs, you have a more concrete understanding of what direction the paper takes. There might be some information or ideas you can add into the intro, to better set up the paper's points.

11. Make your spacing larger. Your teacher probably won't be able to tell the difference between double spacing and 2.5 spacing. *fingers crossed*

12 . While you're at it, expand the spacing between the characters. Yes, I'm talking between each and every letter.

13. Raise the font size from 12pt to 12.5pt. Nobody has to know!

14. Make all periods and commas 14pt. It sounds tedious, but simply command-f and search for the period, that way you can change all of them at once.

15. Put extra space around your (super long and bolded) title. It needs some space to shine and breathe, obvs.

16. Change the font. You can't get too crazy or else your teacher will call you out, so you stick with something super similar to Times New Roman, but slightly bigger, like Bookman Old Style. However some teachers specify a certain font in the paper's assignment requirements — in the case, don't try to switch things up.

17. Reverse outline. After you've finished penning your essay, read it through and write an outline on what you have written so far. This strategy can reveal some paragraphs in need of further development. If you notice one super long paragraph, try breaking the ideas down into separate paragraphs. This might bump the page count up a bit, and give you the opportunity to include a few more transition sentences.

18. Make your margins bigger. You have to be careful about the left and right margins, and the top can be tricky. But the bottom margin, you can practically make it as big as you want. And then you can...

19. Add a fancy footer with page numbers. Obviously (hopefully), your teacher will appreciate your attention to detail and presentation.

20. Add a header with the title of your paper to every single page. Just in case your teacher forgets what your paper is about. You only want to help.

21. Make a separate cover page. Technically, the rubric didn't say it couldn't count as page one.

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5 Tips and Tricks on How to Make an Essay Longer 

how to make my college essay longer

A lot of details are required in an essay and a student must research extensively to gather all the details required and write them. There is the introduction, detailed points in the body, summarized conclusion, and references.

Even with all the information, the toughest part a student may experience is hitting the right word count or expected number of pages. Some students can be tempted to add fluffy words or unnecessary information to lengthen their essays. You can use these tricks and tips to make your essay longer.

Add more details

In the classroom, you might have probably been taught the importance of being brief and direct to the point. This teaching is not wrong, but it is better applicable in other circumstances in life. An essay requires deeper details to make your points as elaborate as possible.

When your essay is short of the right word count, read through your points and elaborate on them further. Be sure the information you add is relevant and avoid fluff. If you had five strong points with a brief, to-the-point explanation, revisit them and add more information.

Essay writing help when you need

Good essay writing skills can be enhanced through a commitment to study and practice. Essays significantly contribute to your grades and that’s why you must put extra effort to write the best quality essay. If you need help,  EduBirdie can write an essay for you  at a very reasonable rate. They have helped college students for more than five years and every student who have used their service return again for more because of their excellent quality. They are available day and night to give writing help when you need it.

Use several examples

Examples help to prove or make your argument stronger but they must be given in the right way. One example for each point might make your essay fall short of word count. If you research deeper, you will not luck more examples that you can use to add weight to your points. Use them wisely lest you affect the flow of your essay.

Read and confirm every detail is included

Before you start to write your essay, you should  begin with an outline  and write down the structure and the points you will use to make your essay look good. There are also the points your teacher wrote and asked you to include.

Read through your essay again and tick against your rough outline to make sure you have included every point your teacher gave you and the points from your ideas. If you are missing any point, work on it and use detailed information.

Do extensive research

Your  essay word count  can be affected by the level of your research. If you did shallow research, you would have fewer points and your essay would be short. Go deeper into research and gather as much information as possible.

Students who immerse themselves into deeper research will mostly have more than enough points to use in their essays. Try this trick and you’ll be surprised to find yourself with points that you cannot include in your essay because you’ve already hit the required word count.

Include more quotations

Quoting someone else in your essay helps add value to it. If you fail to use quotations sparingly and in the right way, it might make your essay look poorly written. When they are used in the right way, they make your points stronger and you can earn more marks. Find out if you can get more relevant quotations and use them wisely to make your essay look good.

Use transitional sentences and phrases

Transitional sentences and phrases help to show how a paragraph or text section is related to the other. They create greater cohesion by helping to bridge one idea to the other. An example can be – you have important information to give, but no one pays attention. You are requesting a deal, but you are ignored.

There are many transitional sentences and phrases you can think about but they must add value to your essay and make the flow smooth. When used correctly, they will turn your essay into a great piece of writing.


Your essay might not meet the word count in your first round of writing, but if you revise it slowly and keenly, you create more words, sentences, and phrases to help lengthen it. The best trick is to take your time to research extensively to get more than enough information to use in your essay. When arguing on your points, do not use direct-to-the-point arguments, but elaborate as much as you can.

Author’s Bio:

Michael Turner works in a technology startup as the lead copywriter and his contribution in terms of emails and landing pages has ensured great success for the company. He’s equally good in his freelancing gigs as an academic writer and his expertise is in thesis and essays. His free time is for reading fiction, playing strategy games and watching mixed martial arts.

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How to Make a College Paper Longer

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Need to make a paper longer but out of ideas? Forget fudging the margins and font or even the legendary "period trick." These 6 tips will make your paper longer—and better!

Avoid the Old, Obvious Tricks

First and foremost, know that your professor most likely knows about all of the "easy" tricks and can spot 'em! Changing the font, changing the margins, doing the "period trick," and tons of other sneaky ways to make your paper longer have all been done before and then some. Since you need to make your paper longer , not worse , skip the easy stuff and focus on the content.

Cite a Few Sources

Add additional quotations to support your examples. If your paper is good, you'll have examples to support your thesis . To make your paper even better (and longer), make sure you have at least one quotation from the text—if not more—to support your examples. (And be careful about citing your quotations accurately, too.)

Add Some Examples to Your Paper

Add an additional example to each paragraph/argument/idea. If you can't add more quotations , add more examples to support your position. Think about more ways to make your point by showing —not just telling—the reader.

Check Your Paragraph Format

Make sure each paragraph has a topic sentence , supporting evidence , and a concluding/transition sentence. Of course, each paragraph should have more than just these three sentences, but you might be surprised at how easily each can be left off—and how much longer your paper can become if you go back through and insert missing items where needed.

See If You Can Prove Yourself Wrong

Think about the arguments against your thesis—and then make sure you've addressed those points. Sure, you may have good arguments for your position. But what would someone holding the opposite position say? And what would you say in response? Making sure those responses are already included in your paper is a great way to make sure you've covered all the bases... and a great way to add some length if your paper is a little shorter than you'd like.

Make Sure Your Paper Structure Is Solid

Confirm and reconfirm that you have a strong introduction , thesis statement , and conclusion . ​Although you may be focused on the body of your paper and the evidence supporting your position, having a strong intro, thesis, and conclusion are important, too. Making sure your paper starts with a bang (good intro), has a solid foundation to stand on (strong thesis), and leaves the reader convinced (stellar conclusion) is a great way to make sure your paper is all-around better—and longer!

how to make my college essay longer

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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Writing Tips / How to Make an Essay Longer the Smart Way

How to Make an Essay Longer the Smart Way

Meeting an essay’s required page or word count can sometimes be a struggle, especially if you’re juggling multiple papers or exams. In a pinch, students often rely on tricks like increasing margin size or making their font slightly bigger. Though these tricks do increase page length, there are easier (and smarter) ways to write a longer, high-quality essay. Making a paper meet minimum word or page counts doesn’t have to be an agonizing process—you can add length while also adding clarity and depth.

Here are 10 tips on how you can write a longer and a smarter essay, even if the deadline is fast approaching:

Tip #1: Look Back at Your Prompt/Rubric/etc.

If you’ve been provided a comprehensive prompt or rubric for an essay, read it, and read it again. Think about the following:

If the answer isn’t a decisive “yes” to every question on this list, go back and revise.

Tip #2: Go Back Through Your Introduction and Conclusion

Often times, ideas evolve while writing a paper. If the first thing you wrote was the introduction, go back and reread the first paragraph. You might decide that you left out key information that aids the reader in understanding your argument. When looking back on the conclusion, make sure you’ve both summarized the main points within the essay and provided your reader with a solution to consider. If you don’t feel you’ve done this, go back through and revise the paper.

Tip #3: Have Someone Proofread Your Essay

Even if you’re short on time ask a friend, sibling, or parent to read through your paper, specifically noting any points they find confusing. Then, go back and revise the parts that were unclear, adding in more information to provide readers with further clarity. You have a more comprehensive understanding of what you’re writing about than your reader, so having someone else look over your paper can be a helpful way to ensure that you haven’t missed any important details.

Tip #4: Use Quotations

Chances are, you have already used quotes in your paper. Quotations are a great way to enhance your argument while also driving up a paper’s word count, but don’t add quotes just for the sake of doing so. If you’re short on words, read through your source materials again to see if you’ve missed any valuable quotes. You can also do a little more research to see if there are any other sources you can add to provide the reader with more evidence toward your argument. Longer quotes aren’t necessarily better, but if you’re really in a bind, you might want to lengthen some of the quotes that are already included.

Tip #5: Review Your Outline

Did you make an outline to plan the essay when you first started? Go back through that initial outline and make sure you’ve hit all of your intended points. It’s possible that you’ve left out an important piece of your argument that would both increase page count and make for a better essay.

Tip #6: Include More Transitional Phrases

Graders often look for traditional words linking sentences to each other, like “therefore,” “even though”, and “on the other hand.” Read through your essay and make sure the sentences flow smoothly into each other. If they don’t, go back and add in transitional phrases like the ones listed above. Your writing will be easier to read, and you’ll get closer to the minimum page requirement in the process.

Tip #7: Read Your Paper Out Loud

This might sound like a silly tip, but when you read your paper out loud, you become increasingly aware of any grammatical or syntactical issues. When you rephrase sentences to fix these, you might end up increasing the paper length a bit. In the process of reading out loud, you also might realize that you didn’t include sufficient details within a particular paragraph. If that’s the case, go back in and add more to increase length.

Tip #8: Take a Break From Your Essay

You’ve probably been staring at your computer screen for hours, hoping words will magically pop into your head. Take a break. Eat a snack, go for a walk, or talk to a friend on the phone. You’ll come back to the essay with a fresh perspective after some time away, and you might have new ideas after you’ve had time away from your paper.

Tip #9: Ask Your Instructor for Help

Most teachers, teaching assistants, and professors are willing to look over papers for students before the final submission date. If there is still time, ask if you can make an appointment to go over your paper or head over to office hours. Your instructor might offer tips on how to better answer the prompt, and this in turn may also increase the word count of the paper.

Tip #10: Use multiple examples to back up your argument

If you’ve only used one source or anecdote to explain a given point, find a second source to provide additional evidence for the reader. This method will help drive up a paper’s word count while also providing further support for your argument.

Although hitting a minimum page count can sometimes be challenging, you can do it the smart way by increasing the information you provide to the reader—there’s no reason to resort to tricks like increasing line spacing or font size. If you’re really in a bind at the last minute, you might want to break up some of your paragraphs. This increases length while also making text more manageable for a reader. But after going through the tips on this list, your paper should be adequate in length without you having to even consider spacing.

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How to Make Your College Essay Longer?

Writing an essay is a challenging and time-consuming task. However, we have some hot tips on how to make your piece longer when you need it.

Legitimate Ways to Make Your Essay Longer

When you get a writing assignment, you are usually assigned a minimal word count you have to achieve. If you are dealing with an interesting topic and have plenty of sources to work with, it is usually not a problem – indeed, sometimes you may have to cut entire paragraphs from your paper so that it is not too long.

However, when you write about something you do not care about, the sources on the topic are scarce, and you just do not feel inspired, meeting the assigned word count can become a seemingly insurmountable task. There are few things more frustrating than running out of ideas when you still have to write three more pages. So, what are you supposed to do if you get into such a situation? In this article, we will cover both what you should and should not do, so read on.

How not to Make Your Essay Look Longer

First, we will cover some of the methods you should avoid like the plague. Quite often, when students fail to meet the allotted word count, they start looking not for the ways to expand their essay, but for the ways to make it literally look longer. In other words, they do not change anything about the paper itself but alter its appearance to try and trick the teacher/professor. You can find plenty of guides on how to do it on the Internet.

Do not use them. Students who resort to such tactics seem to genuinely believe that their professors are at least mildly retarded while they themselves are extremely clever and resourceful. In reality, your professor is probably someone who spent years reading essays and saw these tactics used hundreds of times – more than enough to recognize them at a glance.

Some of these “methods” include:

One trick out of this list may help you make your essay look slightly longer. But use more than one, and it just starts looking ridiculous. This leads us to…

Actually Making Your Essay Longer

1.   make sure you have written everything you could.

Ask yourself, “Does my essay contain everything it should? Is it possible for me to add anything?” Read what you already wrote carefully and check if you forgot to mention something. If nothing comes to mind, see if you can expand what you already wrote. Perhaps you can add an extra argument to the body paragraphs or add a few sentences to the existing ones?

2.   Backing up Your Argument with Examples and Quotations

Most essay types suppose that you illustrate your argument with examples and quotations, and they can really help you grow your word count. However, make sure you do not overdo it. Using at least one example for each argument is viable, but start adding more of them, and your tactic becomes too obvious. It is even more true for quotations. An essay is not a very long piece of writing, and its goal is primarily to demonstrate your own writing and prove that you can talk about a certain subject. A quotation or two at strategic points of your essay are alright (for example, they are commonly used in the introduction and conclusion to attract the reader’s attention), but if there are too many of them, and they are too long, it becomes obvious and annoying.

3.   Broaden Your Topic

If you said everything there is to say about a topic, but there are still not enough words, the only solution may be to expand the topic itself. You can slightly broaden the scope of your essay on your own, talking about something that technically does not fall under the assigned topic, but be careful – your professor may lower your grade exactly because you discuss something irrelevant. Consider contacting your professor and asking if you can expand the scope of your essay a little bit.

4.   Talk about Counter-Arguments

Whatever point of view you support in your essay, chances are there are opposing or simply different perspectives on the subject matter, and you may address them to cover the topic to a greater extent. Consider the most important counter-arguments to what you say about the subject, and dedicate a separate part of the essay to discussing and explaining why they are incorrect and how you can refute them.

5.   Do Extra Research

Of course, your essay is not an in-depth dissertation, but it can always use some extra research. Using a few more sources of information can give you interesting additional information on the subject that will help you add the much-needed extra words.

6.   Add Factual Information

Facts, statistics, charts, graphs not just make your essay bigger; if they are legitimately relevant to the topic you discuss, they make your writing look more serious and advanced. Look for facts that play an important role in the analysis of your topic, and make sure you present them whenever appropriate.

What is good about all these methods is that not only are they less likely to annoy your professor – they are also actually more effective and usually even easier to apply than the tricks we discussed above. Truly unnoticeable visual tricks like increasing the size of punctuation marks can increase the size of your essay a little bit yet require an ungodly amount of fiddling and tweaking. Finding something else to write about, meanwhile, can help you write a few extra paragraphs virtually effortlessly.

Alternatively, if you have trouble writing enough on a given topic, you can simply look for help from specialists. There are plenty of services where you can pay experienced writers to work on your assignment, be it an essay, a term paper, or something else entirely. You simply have to locate a trustworthy agency of this kind, contact it and say, “Can you please help me do my essay ”. This will most likely solve your problems with not being able to say enough about your subject matter.

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How to Make Your Essay Longer The Right Way

how to make my college essay longer

All college students have been there. They’re writing a paper and the deadline is quickly approaching, but they haven’t met the required word count or page length. A paper’s length is an important part of any good college papers. Meeting the size requirements for a paper shows the professor that you are able to follow instructions. It’s easy to turn to an essay service for one time help when the deadline is nearing and you need to make your essay longer.

There are a number of tricks that every student has tried to reach that magic number. This includes everything from increasing the margin size to making the header longer or increasing font size.

While it is possible to increase the size of a paper like this, there are better ways to do it without angering your professor. It’s possible to add content in a pinch while also adding depth to your paper.

Below are some ways that you can make your essay longer if you’re struggling to reach the required word count.

Add Supporting Evidence

The first thing you should do when looking to make your essay longer is look back at any claims you made. Adding supporting evidence to any ideas that you’ve put forward in your essay is a simple way to make your essay longer. 

If you’ve only used a source or two to explain a point, it might be beneficial to do some extra research on it and add examples to further your argument. Not only will this make your research paper longer, but it will also add depth to your ideas and give them some added support.

Ensure that You’ve Included Everything

Take a look back at the rubric or the prompt for the paper and decide if you’ve included everything to make your research paper complete. You may have glanced over a counter-argument or something that needed to be explained further to meet the requirements. 

Ask yourself if you’ve answered all of the questions posed in the prompt or required by your research. Finding something that you’ve missed in the rubric could be the reason why your paper is shorter than the required length or word count.

Use Transitional Phrases

A natural way to increase the length of your essay is to use transitional words to jump from one idea to the next. Not only will this increase the size of your paper, but it will also allow your reader to follow easily follow your thoughts. Read through your essay and ensure that sentences and thoughts flow from one to another. 

This is also something that graders look for in marking an essay. These transitional words link sentences together and make for a clear and concise narrative. It’s a win-win situation.

how to make my college essay longer

Use Quotations

If you have a well-researched paper, it is likely that you’ve already included quotes. However, quotations are an easy way to add something extra to your argument while also increasing the essay’s word quote. Take care to ensure that your paper isn’t only quotations from other writers, this is a good way to spice up your essay.

This not only increases the size of your essay, but it also shows that other writers agree with your ideas and solidifies your arguments. That said, make sure you’ve formatted the quotes correctly and cited any sources.

Take Another Look at Your Outline

Many people see an outline only as a guide to begin writing a research paper. However, if you’re looking for places where you can make your essay longer, it might be worth another glance at your outline. 

A second look may turn up some points that you’ve overlooked or haven’t developed enough. It can also help you find any point you wanted to touch that you can clarify more. Take this opportunity to lengthen your writing and consider paying for a research paper if needed.

You may also find larger paragraphs that can be broken down to introduce new ideas. Break those paragraphs up and explain your ideas with more supporting evidence to increase the word count.

Review Your Introduction and Conclusion

how to make my college essay longer

Ideas evolve as you’re writing. Take a second look at your introduction. You may learn that you’ve left out key information that helps the reader in understanding your arguments. Expand on these points to help the reader understand your points and lead them into the supporting evidence that you will present.

The same can be said for the conclusion of your essay. Make sure that all of your key points have been summarized and that you’ve given the reader a solution to the arguments that you’ve made. If you haven’t, rewrite your conclusion to properly wrap up the essay.

Have Someone Read Your Essay

Having someone else take a look at your essay could highlight any points that are confusing. Go back and revise any arguments that were unclear and add more information and supporting evidence to give readers clarity. 

Remember that you are writing the essay as someone who is knowledgable about the subject. You need to provide the reader with enough information to understand your paper. This is helpful in ensuring that you haven’t left out any important details and giving you an opportunity to add length to your essay.

Read Your Essay Aloud

Reading your paper out loud allows you to become aware of any grammar or syntax errors. Rephrasing sentences to fix these errors could make your essay longer. You may also learn that you haven’t sufficiently supported your arguments. 

Spell Out Numbers or Contractions

One way to increase the length of your essay is to spell out numbers and contractions. Instead of writing “7,” write seven. Take out any “don’ts” and “won’ts” for do not and will not.

Keep in mind this might not be possible depending on any style requirements.

Breakup Paragraphs

In a pinch, you may want to look at breaking up longer paragraphs. If a minimum page count is your issue, this may be something that will be easy to do without making your essay unreadable.

When a deadline is approaching, reaching an essay’s minimum page or word count may seem like quite the challenge. However, it is possible without tricks like increasing line spacing or font size.

Use these tips to add length to your research paper while also making it more understandable for the reader.

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How to Make an Essay Appear Longer Than It Is

Last Updated: January 31, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 12 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,750,191 times.

You are writing a paper and the deadline is approaching, but you are nowhere near the page limit. Many students find themselves in this position. Luckily for you, you can lengthen your paper by using a few tricks. Increasing the font size, adding a lengthy header, and manipulating the spacing between lines are just a few strategies you can use to make your essay appear longer. However, be aware that breaking your teacher’s guidelines may result in a lower grade.

Playing with the Font

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Manipulating Spacing and Margins

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Adjusting the Header and Footer

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Expanding the Content

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how to make my college essay longer

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Jake Adams

To make an essay appear longer than it is, pick a font that's slightly larger than Times New Roman, like Arial, Courier New, or Cambria. If you're required to use 12-point font, try increase the font to 12.1 or 12.2 to gain some extra length without the font looking noticeably larger. Then, press on Control and the F key at the same time to activate the find and replace function, and replace all of the commas and periods with 14-point font. If the essay still isn't long enough, increase the line spacing by 0.1 or 0.2 and make the right margin 0.1-0.2 inches larger. For tips on adjusting the header and footer or adding more content to your essay, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Shorten a College Essay to Meet the Word Limit

how to make my college essay longer

The college application essay is one of the most important components of applying to college. Application essays require a lot of time and effort, so you want to make sure you don’t make easy-to-overlook mistakes such as going over your college application word count.

Unfortunately, many students leave their admissions essay as the last step of their application process after studying for the SAT and learning how to request letters of recommendation. High school students don’t have the time, energy, experience, or organizational skills to prioritize their essay word count and word limits when writing their draft and receiving personal statement editing , recommendation letter editing , or cover letter editing , depending on your admissions documents. 

The good news is that being over the word limit in your admissions essay is not the end of the world. You’ve managed to output a lot of writing for your college essay. That’s a good starting point for revisions. All quality and successful admissions essays  go through the revision process, and a big part of the revision process includes reducing word count.

how to make my college essay longer

This article will explore the following topics:

How flexible is the college essay word limit?

Your essay must stay within the required word limit whether you’re applying directly to your university or through the Common Application, which has become synonymous with the college application process. 

The Common App specifies the word limit required for each essay. Even though this has changed over the years– from 650 to 500 words in the past –the current Common App essay word count is somewhere between 250 to 650 words. 

Can you go over the essay word limit?

You must be careful about staying within the word limit for each application. Look at the essay prompts closely. Unless specified,  never go over the word limit for a college application essay .

It might be impossible to go over the essay word limit

Some universities may allow you to mail in a copy of your admissions essay, but most will use online applications with text fields that may cut off your essay if it goes over the maximum word count.

Admissions officers may just stop reading or toss out your essay

Admissions officers are busier than Santa’s elves during the winter holiday season. They read dozens if not hundreds of essays per day, and most of those will be rejected. If you fail your application, make sure it’s due to the content or something else; failing due to a simple word limit mistake would be a waste!

Following directions is a key component of being a student

If you told someone to do something and you were in the position to enforce it, would you accept the wrong result if 100 other people were waiting and did it right? Of course not. Therefore, the least you can do is to follow any instructions regarding college essay word limits to show admissions officers you will be a competent student at their school.

how to make my college essay longer

Can you go under the essay word limit?

While going over the word limit is a clear and decisive issue, it’s a bit trickier to determine how short your college application essay should be. 

Pay attention to minimum word limits and word ranges 

Some essay prompts will have a suggested minimum– for example, 500 to 650 words. As mentioned above, online text input fields may cut you off at the maximum word count. Some may even have some red text reminding you to input at least 500 words. But you should always double-check these word count guidelines.

The essay is your opportunity to shine

Why would you be so lazy as to only write the minimum amount for your personal statement? This is a great opportunity for you to stand above and apart from other applicants, and choosing your words wisely while presenting your story fully is important.

Add some concrete examples

Examples of events and actions can help you meet the correct word count range. This also reduces redundancy in your writing while reinforcing and supporting your main points. College admissions officers love to hear about your unique experiences.

Why do students find essay word limits difficult?

Why staying under essay word limits is so hard

We now know several reasons why keeping your college essay length in the correct word range so you don’t violate any word limit is important. But  why is staying under essay word limits so hard? 

The essay has no structure or organization

The most effective things are stated simply. And the most effective college admissions essays organize, structure, and communicate efficiently. That doesn’t mean your personal statement will be short; it means that each point should be concise. 

For example, split your writing into clear paragraphs. Organize your essay into separate sections for your academic, leadership, volunteer, and personal experiences. Be sure to add a section on extracurricular activities. Make your structure clear to the reader so that word count will only be a minor consideration. 

The essay does not focus on the essay prompt

If you are having difficulty cutting your word count, look for sentences or even entire paragraphs that are not relevant to the essay prompt. Adding unnecessary information is an easy trap to fall into. Your anecdotes or stories might be interesting and funny, but do they help illustrate why you want to attend UC or Stanford? 

The essay lacks proper vocabulary and verb usage

This tip is more subtle but can really help you reduce essay length and word count. When writing, always use the most appropriate verb, preferably one verb only. It will drastically reduce your word count overall. This is because when you choose the wrong verb, you often must add more words to clarify. 

Average/Wordy:   “I hit the ball so hard it went over the fence.” 

Exceptional/Concise:  “I smashed the ball over the fence.”

The verb “hit” is a solely descriptive action verb. It provides no context about the degree to which you hit the ball, which is why “so hard” or other adverbs are naturally added to regular verbs to provide extra information. Changing the verb completely to something more engaging like “smashed” provides all the context you need. And you just saved 4 out of 11 words!

The essay uses a traditional introduction/conclusion structure

Many students applying to college fall into the trap of trying to fit their essay into a traditional structure consisting of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

With only 650 words, you can recover your word count by skipping the formal rigid essay structure. Instead, dive right into your essay. Your content and experiences are the most important components of your application essay, and you need every word.

Tips to reduce the length of your application essay

Here are some simple tips to cut down the length of your essay. Start with some broad admissions essay tips  first and move on to the easier grammar and proofreading-related steps below.

Remove adverbs

Here’s how to find if your admissions essay has a lot of adverbs: Look for “ly” words around your verbs. Often, these types of adverbs are just filler words and a reflection of spoken conversational English rather than accomplishing anything meaningful. Go through your essay and decide if each adverb is truly necessary. 

Unnecessary adverbs:   “ate quickly”, “ran quickly”

Stronger verbs:   “devoured”, “rushed”

Here is a list of common adverbs you can remove to reduce your essay’s word count:

how to make my college essay longer

Remove filler words

Filler words are another crutch or may just be used out of habit. Go through your essay right now with “ctrl + f” or “cmd + f” for Mac users and delete every instance of  actually  and  very.  We promise they add nothing important to your writing. 


Filler words:  “I found myself actually surprised about how much I learned”

No filler words:  “I was surprised at how much I learned”

The word “actually” is pretty much useless. You must clearly state that you were surprised. Further, “finding yourself” is a conversational filler that comes off as unprofessional.

Avoid using too many prepositional phrases

Prepositions are common linking words such as  of ,  to ,  for ,  by ,  from ,  in , and  on . These are highly dependent on the context of your personal statement, especially when you reference narrative elements in your past. Go through your essay carefully and make changes to reword your sentences and cut down your essay word count.

Too many prepositional phrases:  “I struggled to work in a team in order to get a good grade in the group project”

Fewer prepositional phrases:  “I struggled with the team aspect of the group project”

There’s no need to verbalize that you worked in a team or to mention the grad aspect. Furthermore, these prepositional phrases add extra length to your sentences, which will not help you meet the essay word count.

Be clear and concise. Cut down your word count.

Be direct and decisive in your writing

Students are often told to avoid overgeneralizing groups of people or ideas but that they should also be precise in their English writing. This can lead to the author failing to commit to a concept and coming off as unsure or weak.

An overreliance on modifier words such as adjectives and adverbs is often the culprit. 

Too many modifiers:  “Although my high school grades were  sometimes   slightly  less than average, I  was able to  outperform  many  of my classmates, who often struggled to improve.”

Stronger verbs and adjectives:  “Although my high school grades were inconsistent, I later outperformed my classmates, who struggled to improve.”

You can see how the improved version appears more matter-of-fact, consistent, and even confident despite the admission of lower grades. 

Don’t be a narrator 

Do not waste time restating the common app essay prompt or telling the reader what you will discuss next. This would be fine for an informative article (like the one you’re reading now), but not for an application essay. Eliminating these structural road markers will greatly cut down your word count.

Too much narration:  “I will start by discussing my leadership experiences…” or “The next important part of my academic background was my….”

Less narration:  “I gained leadership experience when…” or “One of my academic achievements was…”

Consider college essay editors for extra help

Get help from a professional college essay editor

The college admissions and application essay landscape is very competitive, and this has led students to seek an edge. One reason why application essay editing services are so popular is due to their speed and quality. They free up students to prepare more college applications and focus on the content of their personal statements instead of drilling down things like grammar and essay word limits.

One of the best things applicants can do is write as many college admissions essays as possible without worrying at all about grammar or word count. Organize your essays by the essay prompt category (e.g. “Why X university?” or “Tell us about an obstacle you overcame”).

Then, send ONE type of each essay to a reputable proofreading company that offers  college essay editing services . When you get your changes back, apply them to all essays of that category. This minimizes the cost but gets you the most benefits. 

How to Shorten Your College Admissions Essay--light bulbs hanging

FAQ: How to shorten your admissions essay

Advice from our editing experts , can a college essay be longer than 650 words.

Can you use contractions and abbreviations in college essays?

Do citations count towards the college essay word limit?

Does the title count towards the college essay word limit?

How many pages is 650 words?

How do you shorten long sentences?

How many paragraphs is a 650-word essay?


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