How Long Should an Essay Paragraph be?Friday, December 3rd, 2010
…And other answers about essay paragraphs
An essay paragraph can be a very confusing category. How long should paragraphs be? Is it true that each paragraph should express a whole idea? How about linking words and expressions? How many paragraphs should an essay have?
Writing good paragraphs is the key to writing a good essay that will get you through the course. Here we will give you some tips on how you can link, split and format your essay paragraphs.
The basic essay paragraph structure
Even the shortest essay is supposed to include at least five essay paragraphs. The first paragraph is an introduction, then, there are three body paragraphs, and the fifth and last summarizes the whole essay and provides a conclusion. The basic structure of each of these paragraphs is the same: one topic sentence at the beginning, and three sentences that work as specific supports. This is called the basic essay structure: the paragraphs always have the same purpose and if you get this structure right, you can expand them in order to fill the requested essay word count.
Using linking words and transitional phrases
In order to present a clear train of thought to the readers, when writing your essay you should link each paragraph through logical transitions. Even though you can imply the idea through a conceptual link, there are particular essay words and phrases you can use for that purpose: conjunctive adverbs such as consequently, moreover, similarly, therefore, however; or transitional phrases such as for example, in other words, in contrast. Don’t abuse of them, and use them as long as you understand their meaning.
When you are editing and proofreading your essay, pay attention at the end of each paragraph and make sure it connects properly to the first sentence of the paragraph following it.
How long should a paragraph be?
There is no specific length established for an essay paragraph. However, you can still write too long or too short paragraphs. So, how can you get your paragraphs right? First of all, check that the whole paragraph concerns itself with a single focus. If you want to express a new idea, split the long paragraph in two. For what we have already seen, it is alright to begin a paragraph with a sentence connecting it to the previous one.
On the other hand, if a paragraph is too short, perhaps you should develop a little more the initial idea. Read the paragraph carefully and consider if your main focus has been developed enough. Can you add an example? Why not adding an anecdote? Is there a term that could use some defining?
Paragraph formatting rules
Last but not least, a couple of words in formatting. If you leave a blank space between paragraphs, this will make your essay much easier to read. Examiners will certainly appreciate this! Another way is indenting the paragraphs in your essay: the most traditional formatting rule calls for five blank spaces at the beginning of every essay paragraph.