How to Increase Your Essay Word Count

how to increase an essay word count
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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61 comments

  1. I hate it when teachers give a word count. Word count shouldn’t matter at all. It should be the quality of the writing. If I can get my point across in 1000 words, why do I need to write 2500? It makes no sense at all.

      1. That’s a lazy answer. Students who write well shouldn’t be punished with a word count because other students aren’t good students. It’s the teacher’s job to help those students who aren’t doing as well without forcing those good students to do stupid things that make no sense for them.

        1. If you can make it more fun to read, this can also help with word count. Add emphasizes or explain something in more detail. There are so many great ways to increase your word count. It shouldn’t be too hard if you put your mind to it!

      2. Word count never mattered as soon as I got to college, my professors used the “bikini rule,” short enough to keep it interesting, long enough to cover the important parts. Don’t use 2000 words to say what you can in 500

        1. This isn’t the correct question to ask. It’s easy to increase word count on an essay, but it’s difficult to increase word count to make the essay better. So many people decide to increase their word count by inserting sentences, paragraphs, quotes and other non-necessary information simply to reach the word count. While it achieves the goal of increasing the word count, it doesn’t make the essay any better, and it usually makes it much worse. What you should always strive for is to increase the number of words in the essay while also making the essay stronger than it was before.

        2. In my experience, college is even worse than high school in this regard. I regularly have to conform to word counts and page counts. Right now, I’m writing a research paper that has an 8 page minimum. Why? Because the professor said so. I could certainly be a lot more concise if I didn’t have to pad it out, but this is what’s required of me. The kicker is that the prof is DEFINITELY going to take off points due to obvious padding. DON’T FORCE ME INTO AN ARBITRARY LENGTH, THEN.

          1. Just change the font style to a bigger one and then do the same with the size of the font but not too big or it will seem too obvious.

      3. So basically you’re saying that you don’t trust your students to be able to write correctly in your class? Isn’t that more a reflection on your teaching than it is on the students who are writing?

      4. See what you just did you got your point across in 18 words YOU JUST ARE STUPID! Anyways why are you on this web site if you are a teacher?

    1. Teachers too often tried to make things easier on themselves to the detriment of the students are trying to teach. I think making minimum word counts is one of those. On the other hand, I think that maximum word counts can actually be beneficial because it forces the students to better edit their writing.

      1. “Teachers too often tried to make things easier on themselves to the detriment of the students [they] are trying to teach.” Are you making this very bold statement because you have experienced it as a teacher, completed an in-depth research on this topic, or are you just making your opinion seem like a fact? I ask simply because I am a teacher, a high school English teacher to be more specific, and I found your comment to be nothing but overblown opinion. I cannot speak for every teacher, but in my class, I have to put a minimum word count on my essay assignments or I would have the majority of the students attempt to turn in a paragraph and say it is an essay. It would not matter that I instructed them on the purpose of the essay, explained what an introductory paragraph, body paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph are and their individual purposes. It also would not matter if I also spent an entire six week grading period teaching, instructing, modeling, and practicing writing essay, I would still have some that would turn in a ridiculously short essay and argue that they have “gotten to the point.” However, any logical person would know that these student’s essays would not meet the required components of an essay and would not serve as evidence of mastery, which is what a teacher is suppose to do right? Help students master certain skills, regardless of what is “easier on” them?

      1. 2000/4 = 500/1

        Just write approx 500 words per day; spend like 1-2 hours for the next couple day adding like 500 words every time. Or you could be a knucklehead like me and try to get it all done in one go, then me suffering the next morning because you fell asleep at 3:30

    1. Yes! This is what I need. I don’t understand how people can write under the word count given. I’m ALWAYS over, and by a lot. I had a 1000 word paper to write and I wrote 2500. Teachers never give enough word count for writing.

  2. A thesaurus is your friend when you are only a bit under word count. I’m glad to see you added one to your tool. it’s so much easier than going back and forth to another thesaurus website. Thank you for making this useful tool and not charging any money for it.

    1. Adjectives and adverbs can help with this, but it won’t make the essay stronger. You usually want to eliminate adverbs and adjectives in your writing to make it better. You have to make a decision as to whether word count is more important or a better essay is more important before using these methods.

  3. I’m 500 words short of the minimum word count my teacher assigned for my essay. What is the best way to increase word count fast without a lot of effort?

  4. I hate that I never seem to be able to write enough words for assignments. If I have answered a question, why do I need to write more meaningless words?

    1. You should never write meaningless words. You would be much better off adding a different perspective or adding more support to your view. meaningless words will only lower your grade.

  5. As a teacher, I’m glad to see legitimate ways for students to increase their essay word count instead of all the “tricks” students don’t think we know, but we do. Adding random words in white so it appears the word count is higher than it is doesn’t work because we know approximately how many pages the assignment should be. Best to actually do the work!

    1. You are the exception. I have a great way to increase word count when I’m short on words. I will write a bunch of random text at the end of the essay, then change it to white so you can’t see it even though it’s there. Now the teacher thinks you have written the required word count. Brilliant! Teachers are so clueless that this works 100% of the time. Now you will never be under your word count and you don’t have to write a bunch of filler crap that isn’t needed. You can thank me later.

  6. There must be so many students who come to this article for the exact same reason as I did. (“hi” all you sleep-deprived people) I’m 500 words short on my essay and I need to figure out how to make it longer before tomorrow’s class. thank you for this list of ideas. I think I’ll be able to incorporate a few of them to make my essay long enough to reach the word count.

    1. Yes, this is the exact reason I’m here, but I need to add 600 words to my essay. Why do teachers make the assignments so long when there is only a limited amount to say on the given topic?

    2. I’m one of those looking for a way to extend an essay by 300 words when I’ve already said everything there is to say on the topic. I guess I’ll add a lot of useless quotes just to satisfy the teacher.

  7. I think attitude has a lot to do with it. If you’re writing an essay you have little to no interest in writing, it’s much more difficult to write it and reach the word count. If it’s something you have a lot of interest in, then the issue is usually staying beneath the word count limit. One of the best ways to increase word count on essays is to take an interest in the topic. If you learn to become more curious and have an interest in things that may not at first seem to be interesting, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to write essays and to always reach the designated word count.

    1. That easy to say and all, what if your teacher assigns you a topic? And what if that topic is totally boring? It’s hard to write about things that are boring and you have no interest in, so of course it’s going to be difficult to reach the word count. If you’re in school, you have to write with the teacher tells you to write, not what interests you. So your suggestion sounds good and all, but in reality we don’t have that choice.

  8. I think the best way to increase the word count of an essay is to add more examples. This clarifies what you’re trying to say which adds value to the essay so anyone reading will understand exactly the point you want to get across. All my friends are bad at giving examples, but I am good and I’m always going over the word count while they are always under.

  9. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. My entire essay is almost only quotes. This is the easiest way to make your essay meet word count. Just put in a lot of quotes and you’ll get there in no time.

    1. It maybe the easiest way to increase your word count, but if your entire essay is all quotes you probably aren’t going to get a very good grade on it. Quotes should be used to support the points that you’re trying to make, but they shouldn’t be your entire essay. If you want to do well in school, you have to know the difference between these two.

    2. This is lazy writing. It will not help you become better in the long run, and the teacher will see what you’ve done and mark down your paper. The easiest way is often not the best way to approach increasing an essay word count.

  10. This is really a skill that every teacher should teach their students. Not just assign an essay, but explain how the steps they need to take to reach a word count. It would be a great benefit to most students (I know some students are wordy and always hit their word count, but most of us don’t). I wish teachers cared enough to actually help us.

    1. On almost any topic you care to mention volumes have been written. To imagine you have covered the topic fully and still be 500-600 words short of required count is ridiculous. The idea that the shortfall is due to the clarity of your arguments or exceptional command of language & vocabulary is laughable in most cases.

      If it’s too short, it lacks content. Do more research.

      The quality of your writing may suggest you are the love child of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but if it doesn’t cover the assignment material you won’t get the marks.

      Teachers know the key points they expect to be covered on an assignment and allow a word allocation for each point, as well as marks allocation.

      For example, a 1,000 word requirement may indicate a short intro and conclusion and 4 x 200 word key points.

      You might be able to work out the scheme by reviewing assignments where you scored well.
      How many key points did you make, compared to word count?

      Word count = 170.

  11. Not everyone is born with the ability to write or enjoys writing, so sometimes it can be extremely hard to write a long essay. These tips surely did help a lot. I would also suggest learning enjoy writing more. If you like to do it, it should be easier to do.

  12. Any teachers out there? Why exactly do assignments have a minimum and maximum word count assigned? Is it for the students’ benefit or the teachers? I’m curious as it would seem that word count shouldn’t really matter, but that actual writing for the assignment. I waiting to hear a good answer to this question.

    1. Word count forces students to be more concise in their writing and focus on the most important points. Minimum word counts make the student research more to find alternative supporting evidence they may have overlooked without it.

  13. If you can’t increase your word count, you don’t know what you’re writing about well enough. There should be no issue writing about any topic up to 5000 words as long as you are familiar with the topic. If you find you don’t have enough to write about something, it’s because you haven’t taken the time to study the topic well enough.

    1. This isn’t true. Sometimes you don’t need a lot of words to cover the topic at hand and adding more words just to increase word count does nothing but add unneeded words. Sure, you can add the words, but they are useless and don’t make the essay better. Why would anyone want to do that?

  14. I stumbled upon this and it’s been helpful, but are there other ways to increase word count? I still have about 500 more words to write.

  15. Any teachers out there? Why exactly do assignments have a minimum and maximum word count assigned? Is it for the students’ benefit or the teachers? I’m curious as it would seem that word count shouldn’t really matter, but that actual writing for the assignment

    1. As teachers, we know approximately how long an essay should be to get the points across for that particular assignment. That is why we assign a word count. If the student is well under they have not explored the topic in-depth enough and if they are well over, they are being too wordy.

  16. The best way to increase a paper’s word count is to do more research. The more research you do, the more information you’ll have, and the more you can write on the topic.

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