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Learn How Many Paragraphs In An Essay: Easy-To-Use Guide

how many paragraphs should be in an essay

There’s no hard rule that says essays should have a maximum number of paragraphs. However, a good essay needs to have a minimum number of paragraphs.

To do your essay topic justice, you should write a minimum of three to five paragraphs. Anything below that makes the writing not qualify to be an “essay.”

As a rule, your essay should be in three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Thus, in a one-page essay, you may only write three paragraphs. In this case, each section consists of a paragraph.

Thus, in a one-page essay (250 words), three paragraphs would suffice.

So, how do you determine how many paragraphs in 2000 words, for example?

The Determinants Of The Number Of Paragraphs In An Essay

Essay Length

The length of an essay can dictate how many paragraphs it should have. Typically, a paragraph should contain 100 to 200 words. That means:

  • 500-word essay may have three to four paragraphs,

  • 800-word essay should have 4 to 8 paragraphs

  • 1000-word essay should have five to 10 paragraphs

  • 2000-word essay should consist of 10 to 20 paragraphs, etc.

The average essay length in college may vary depending on the institution, course level, department, and syllabus.

Typically, undergraduate college essays are between 1500 and 5000 words. College admission essays, on the other hand, can be anywhere between 200 and 650 words.

Using 100 to 200 words per paragraph, you can come up with the approximate number of paragraphs for these essays.

Topic Adequacy

Your topic also determines how many paragraphs an essay should have. You should use as many paragraphs as possible to write on the topic adequately.

Adequacy is relative. You should first decide on the depth your topic should address. An in-depth discussion will need a lengthy essay, and thus, a higher number of paragraphs.

The essay requirements determine how detailed the content should be.

Topic Development And Organization

The development of your essay topic and organization of the material can affect an essay’s number of paragraphs. For instance, if you decide to develop the topic using comparison and contrast (and your topic resonates with such development, you may end up with four paragraphs in your essay:

  • Introduction

  • Comparison

  • Contrast

  • Conclusion

Let’s say the essay topic is on the causes of civil war. The number of paragraphs here depends on the number of causes you came up with, and whether you’d like to mention all the causes or only a few important ones.

There are many ways to develop a topic, with each dictating how many paragraphs you need to include in your paper.

Essay Type

The type of essay you should write also influences the number of paragraphs the writing should have.

Argumentative essays can be short or long. Short argumentative essays usually require five paragraphs: one paragraph in the introduction, three paragraphs in the body, and a paragraph in conclusion.

Longer argumentative essays will obviously require more paragraphs due to an increase in the number of supportive arguments.

Reflective and expository essays require a flexible number of paragraphs depending on the topic’s scope.

Essay Instructions

Other than providing you with an essay topic, instructors also provide well-detailed instructions regarding the length of the paper, the sections to cover, and the depth or scope of the topic.

These instructions should give you a hint on whether an essay should have just a few or many paragraphs.

Grading Rubric

Essays typically come with a rubric that details the grading criteria. You can see the requirements for an A-grade essay as well as a D-grade one.

The grading rubric includes important details, such as the number of sections, depth of discussion, grammar, and more. To achieve the highest score, you’ll need to meet the highest standards of the requirements.

That means paying close attention to things that will ultimately affect the number of paragraphs. At times the rubric may contain the number of paragraphs to include in the essay. If that’s the case, stick to that.

If the rubric has no details regarding how many paragraphs to write, then read the rest of the rubric details to judge how many paragraphs to write.

Number Of Sentences Per Paragraph

Often, the number of sentences per paragraph may determine how many paragraphs to write. Most instructors teach that paragraphs should be five sentences long. Some make this a rule, while others use it as a general writing guideline.

Such a paragraph contains an introductory sentence followed by three sentences that explain a point and one sentence to conclude the point.

So, if there are no clear guidelines as to how many sentences a paragraph should contain, you may want to shoot for five.

The Content in Your Essay is More Important Than The Number of Paragraphs

At last, your essay is evaluated based on the information presented rather than the number of paragraphs included.

Earlier on in your studies, lecturers and teachers may provide you with an essay structure to follow and a guideline regarding the acceptable length of each part in your essay.

I see essay instructions indicating the number of marks allocated per section. The trick is to take the total number of words and assign a percentage of words to every section depending on the percentage of marks assigned per section.

For example, if your professor is awarding 70 marks for the entire essay and you can see that a certain essay section takes 50 percent of the marks, then you should devote 50 percent of the entire word count to that particular section.

At times, the teacher will provide you with a topic and ask you to write. While this option gives you more freedom, it can be a difficult one.

After researching, you’ll know the number of angles to concentrate on. This step will help you find information that supports and contradicts your perspective.

To develop a strong argument, you should focus on balancing between supporting and contradictory information. This part may seem rather difficult, but with the help of professional essay writers the information analysis may be performed fast and easy.

To ensure you don’t get trapped in a single aspect of the information, decide on its possible length. If it’s the essential aspect that informs your conclusion, then you can dedicate more time and words on that point. It may end up in many paragraphs as opposed to one or two.

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