Whenever you’re writing an essay for a class, to get into your dream school, or for some other reason besides “just for the heck of it,” you usually need to write a minimum number of words or pages.
And while there are probably topics you could write about forever — an ode to your pillow or your deep, unabashed love for nineties sitcoms, for instance — there will be times when you simply run out of things to say before you reach your target word count.
So what do you do when you feel as though you’ve squeezed out every last word you can say about your topic, but your essay falls short of your goal?
This post will help you learn how to make an essay longer without resorting to useless fluff, purple prose, or 6 silly things the reader will totally notice (so don’t even bother).
How to Make an Essay Longer: Before You Write
Don’t underestimate the value of planning ahead. When you’re staring down a hefty page requirement, there are a few things you can do before you ever start writing to set yourself up for success.
- Do lots of research. The more information you have about your topic from the get-go, the easier it is to write (and write, and write, and write some more).
- Create a thorough outline. Planning what you will write in advance helps you organize your ideas and spot weaknesses in your arguments and ideas that you can elaborate on. Plus, it helps you write more quickly. (Need some help? Check out these posts on the expository essay outline or 5-paragraph essay outline for strategies you can use for papers of any length).
- Broaden your topic (if necessary). Sometimes, after researching or thinking about your topic and creating an outline, you realize that you still don’t know enough about your topic to draft a complete essay. This doesn’t mean that your approach is wrong; sometimes the information simply isn’t there.
This is a good time to consider broadening the scope of your essay by…
…discussing a wider range of perspectives,
…examining a larger population,
…looking at a larger geographic area,
…considering a broader time span,
And of course all of this planning works best when you start your essay well in advance of the deadline, so don’t procrastinate.
What happens if you use these strategies and still come up short?
How to Make an Essay Longer (the Obnoxious, Lazy Way)
Let me preface this section by acknowledging that you, dear reader, are a smart cookie. So I know that you would never resort to cheap padding strategies, right?
But just in case you’re tempted to quote like crazy or tweak the formatting to make an essay look longer and need a reminder of why that’s a bad idea, remember that it will be totally obvious (and super annoying) if you…
….increase the page margins.
….increase the font size (even if it’s just the periods — don’t!).
….choose an odd-looking font because it’s larger than average.
….add extra spaces after periods.
….add extra spaces between paragraphs.
….add long but ill-placed or irrelevant quotations to your essay.
People (ahem, your instructors) who read essays for a good chunk of the day are on to these tricks. In a stack of 20 or more essays, the one with the subtly larger font and and slightly wider margins will stick out!
Don’t believe me? Have a look at these two essays:
Adding a quarter inch to the margins and using a larger font does make the essay longer. But it creates a pretty obvious difference!
Furthermore if you turn your paper in electronically, your teacher might adjust the font/margin by default…then you’re totally busted, and your efforts were a total waste.
One more thing: don’t assume that an assignment with a required number of pages rather than words is a green light to go nuts with formatting.
This simply means that your instructor trusts that you are mature enough to hand in a paper with reasonable margins, a normal-sized font, and so forth.
Don’t abuse that trust!
Ultimately, the effort you put into adjusting the formatting or hunting for quotes could be better spent writing more content.
But as you will see in the next section, the kind of content you write matters.
How to Make an Essay Longer (and Ruin It in the Process)
Before you can make your essay longer the honest way — by adding more actual words — you need to know the difference between substance and, well, everything else.
Take fluff, for instance.
Fluff is awesome on chicks and bunnies, but it’s less awesome in writing. So what is fluff anyway?
Fluff is clutter, plain and simple. It’s writing that takes too many words to get to the point. And while it is a tempting means by which to lengthen your essay, it annoys your readers…and it’s easy to spot.
- Stating the obvious
- Saying rather than showing
- Redundancy/repeating yourself
- Using overly complex words/sentence structures
- Overusing words like “very,” “really,” “rather,” etc.
“Purple prose” is another kind of fluff. This refers to flowery, over-the-top writing that is way too heavy with adverbs and adjectives.
Let’s look at a fluffy, purple example from a narrative or personal statement:
“It was in the great, shining city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that I instinctively drew my first breath.”
That’s a terribly dramatic and wordy way to say, “I was born in Philadelphia.”
Here’s another over-the-top example focused on a piece of literature. I’ll bold the fluff so you can follow along:
“The Great Gatsby is a very interesting novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The author of the book uses many symbols that are utilized to symbolize certain things. The mysterious green light on Daisy’s dock is a symbol that the author uses to show the reader something.This rather important symbol represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams of the future. Scholar T. Smith also states that this symbol is important in the book because it “reflects Gatsby’s future ambitions.”
Well, that says a whole lot of nothing. It’s repetitive, it’s wordy, it contains an unnecessary quotation, and reading it is not unlike wading through mud. Look how much that idea can be condensed when I take out the fluff:
“In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald includes a number of symbols, including the green light on Daisy’s dock that represents Gatsby’s hopes and dreams of the future.”
Still not sure what constitutes fluff? Check out Stephanie Orges’ 47 words and phrases that slow your reader down for some great examples of fluffy constructions to avoid.
Also read How to Avoid Sticky Sentences and Be a Better Writer.
Now that you know how not to make your essay longer, let’s look at some legit strategies for bulking up your writing so that you end up with an essay that’s all killer, no filler.
How to Make an Essay Longer…and Better than Ever
There are plenty of ways to make an essay longer without sacrificing its readability or your reader’s sanity. Assuming that you already have your essay drafted, you can use one or more of the following strategies to generate real, substantial content.
1.Let someone else read your essay. Sure, you think that your essay is clear, persuasive, entertaining, and thorough, but sometimes we make silly leaps in logic that don’t work as well for our audience. Ask a trusted friend or a Kibin editor to look over your paper and make suggestions about where to add more details or support.
(Pro tip: For this reason, a lot of writers specifically request that I ask questions while I edit their papers. Don’t be afraid to ask!)
2. Look at your topic from a new angle. If you’re writing a persuasive or argumentative essay, consider counterarguments or alternate views. Addressing these arguments (and taking them down point by point) not only adds length to your essay, but it strengthens your own argument, too.
3. Think outside the box. The five-paragraph essay has its place when you are learning to compose an essay. Unless stated otherwise in an assignment, though, an essay can have 4 or 7 or 20 paragraphs! If you have a solid structure (a good outline helps), then don’t hem yourself in with arbitrary notions of what constitutes an essay.
4. Add more support. Depending on the type of essay you’re writing, “support” may include quotations and paraphrased information from research or anecdotes and examples from your own experience. Be sure that any support that you add actually strengthens the point you’re trying to make. Here are some of the most common types of support for different types of essays:
5. Walk away for a while. Sometimes, all you need to renew your inspiration is to step away from your writing for a bit. This is a time-tested cure for writer’s block and is an important reason to start drafting your essay early — not, say, the night before it’s due.
If you can spare the time, set your essay aside for a couple days. If you’re staring down a deadline, even an hour or two away from your writing will help you revisit it with a fresh perspective and — hopefully — some new ideas.
Armed with the pre-writing and revising strategies outlined in this post, you now know how to make an essay longer and stronger without resorting to fluff, filler, or formatting ‘solutions’ that only waste your time and frustrate your reader.
If you’re new to writing essays longer than a few pages, check out Shawn Doyle’s post The Five-Paragraph Fix — How to Write Longer Essays for advice on tackling longer essays and why writing ten pages can eventually become easier than writing just 2.
Also, read these tips for writing longer papers from Hamilton College. This resource provides some great advice for organizing, researching, drafting and revising long essays and research papers so you don’t get stumped in the first place.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
The word 'impossible' itself spells, 'I'm possible'. Napoleon Bonaparte once remarked, "That the word 'impossible' is found only in the dictionary of fools". In this world, everything is possible on the basis of will power, dogged determination and sacrifice.
To accomplish the most difficult tasks, you need to put in a lot of hard work, extra perseverance and concentration on a single objective. You should have patience and faith in yourself. You should have determination, dedication and devotion to attain success. Never bother about the results. Keep on going even if the pace is slow. Just ensure it remains steady.
You are bound to face obstacles en route to success, but with courage and perseverance, you can master them. Your positive attitude and clear frame of mind determine your future. In this world, there is no such thing as CHANGE. By your own ideas, will and ability, you can create a number of chances, circumstances and the desired atmosphere to achieve the toughest goal.
Great minds have purposes, whereas others simply have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by seeming setbacks, but great minds rise above them and fight their way to victory. Always and never are a fighter and never a quitter.
To attain your desired goal, you have to laugh at your trouble and have to forget it. When you laugh at your trouble, you will find it to be a mere bubble, which is swiftly blown away. To gather the fruit, to register victory, to score success, you require unwavering faith in yourself.
Faith, works like miracle. It looks beyond all boundaries, transcends all limitations, conquers all obstacles and carries you to your goal. Therefore have faith, take courage and march ahead, onward and upward, till you attain the goal.
Nothing is achieved without great enthusiasm and effort. Enthusiasm puts a sparkle in your eyes, a lilt in your steps. If often makes you perform, extraordinary feats in very ordinary situations.
Our freedom fighters-Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and many others- are glaring examples of the fact that impossibilities work as a boon for next attempt towards possibilities. They had faced brutal and oppressive treatment from the Britishers. Their movements and efforts could not always get the desired results. There were times, which were highly distractive and frustrating but they did not allow frustrations to shake their will. They continued their movement with vigour and enthusiasm, and ultimately succeeded in reaching their destination. It could become possible only due to their hard work and indomitable will power tc overcome the toughest challenges.
Look at the splendid performance of Indian sports prodigy, Sania Mirza. She stole the limelight by becoming the first Indian to make it to the third round of a Grand Slam viz., Australian Open 2005. Earlier, Sania had emerged as the first Indian to win the WTA title at the Hyderabad Open in February 2005. The honour, which she got, was not achieved in one day. It was the soul elating outcome of the Hyderabad girl's dogged perseverance, strenuous net practice and above all, a resolute will to be are achiever.
The other stalwart is Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the wicketkeeper of the Indian cricket team who, as wicketkeeper-batsman, created a world- record in ODIs when he knocked a blitzkrieg 183 (not out) against Sr. Lanka in Jaipur (Rajasthan) in October 2005. The knock of 183, which contained 120 runs (10 sixes and 15 fours) is another world record of most runs in 6s and 4s in an ODI innings. Dhoni's sincere efforts and full dedication made him triumphant.
The Indian cricket team was battered badly in Sri Lanka a few months ago and was surrounded by contradictions. However, they came out strong and proved that they are the winners. India won four consecutive ODIs in 2005 after a gap of 11 years. They won both the One Day International and the Test Series against Sri Lanka and showed to the world that they have the stuff of champions in them. The coveted honour did not come to our cricket team as a windfall. This was the result of strenuous practice, unwavering faith and a never-say-die spirit. Their glorious success came just because of positive mental make-up, hard work, playing as a well-knit team and disciplined approach.
Mr. Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa is another example. He succeeded in his war against Apartheid in his nation, in spite of various failures. Last, but not the least, Mother Teresa got the Nobel Peace Prize for working relentlessly for the ill, poor and needy people. There are so many examples, which show that the word 'impossible' is not present in stalwarts' dictionary but what is present is 'faith'.
A person with faith blows away the word 'impossible'. He is invariably an optimist. Someone has said: "Two men look out through the same bars; one sees the mud and the other sees the stars." An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. "Faith believes in things when common sense tells you not to."
If you worry and despair about impossibilities they will simply multiply. Never let your mind think that any work is impossible. Always endeavour with new zeal. When you are not able to reach your destination or goal because of some personal limitation-either real or imaginary-you suffer from the feelings of despair. Both physical and psychological handicaps may be the causes of despair or frustration. Vernon Howard can be quoted as saying: "Never, never run yourself down. Never express yourself as being inferior, for if you do, you will believe what you say."
You should start your work with dedication, motivation and should be unattached with the results. Your attitude should be right. With a resolute, positive and committed attitude you can invariably develop the right aptitude. That is why Dr. Karl Meninger had stated unequivocally:-"Attitudes are more important than facts." By changing your negative attitude, you can shed your tormenting fears, doubts, despair an inferiority complex. Just as the dust tarnishes even the brightest of a gem, despair too contaminates the virtues of the wise.
When illusion overwhelms reality, when fantasy displaces pragmatism, when madness conquers sanity, there is only one factor to blame himself. Mind makes the distinction between good and bad, happiness and sac triumph and defeat. It rests entirely upon the mind whether to draw line a little towards this side or that. Mind should be the haven of all good emotions of life. It is the temple of true love. It can hold more beauty the even nature itself.
As Wordsworth, in his 'Prelude', states:"... “The mire man becomes a thousand times more beautiful than the earth on which he dwells." It is the abode of happiness and it is the warm home to which injuries rush to get healed. It is, above all, the furnace, which tempers man. According to Cicero, "Each man's mind is the man himself". Thus, it can be emphatically stated that mind is the moulder of the impossible to the possible.
"Rome was not built in a day". This denotes that success comes through hard work, perseverance and perspiration. Years of hard 1 made Rome a beautiful city in the world.
In the movie Black, Rani Mukherjee has played the role of girl who is blind, but by her own efforts, dedication determination, gets graduation degree at the age of 40. Had she given up in between, she would have been surrounded by despair. Depression, fear, anger and frustration leave deep rooted permanent scars on our psyche. It has been rightly said by Disraeli that "despair is the conclusion of fools." If you can persuade yourself that you can do a certain thing you will do it, no matter how difficult it is.
Nothing is impossible in this world. This implies that you can do anything, if you have will to do it. The WILL is like "the hammer that shatters glass but forges steel". A determination which is as strong as STEEI makes everything possible in the world.