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How to Make an Essay Longer: 14 Tips to Filling Paper Length Requirements

Written tasks are cumbersome. But professors are particularly keen on assigning them whenever possible as if classwork and tests are not enough to evaluate a student. Hence, you end up spending a night over the half-finished task that still lacks an essential page or two. You are tired, run out of motivation and imagination. All you want is to save the document, upload it to the dashboard, and go to bed. But the instructor put specific requirements you need to meet, no matter what. If a strict page requirement is what haunts you, take our tips and increase the size of your assignment with little stress and effort.

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

The chances are, you created in haste and forgot to include something important that you planned to use or that was asked in the grading rubric. Read the rubric through, tick each point that you covered and then add the points that you missed. Whether the insufficient number of in-text citations or opposing points of view and its refutation, your prompt can tell what else to jot down to make your text slightly bigger. This is the first step to take without resorting to ages-old cheats of tampering with intervals, styles, and other things so disliked by profs.

Tip #2: Avoid the Old, Obvious Tricks

Yes, we all know recommendations to increase spacing, font sizes, use period trick (like making periods and commas larger than the rest of characters), to tamper with the right margin, add more lines to headers, and so on. 12 pt Arial, Cambria, or Bookman Old Style are all bigger than 12 pt Times New Roman, and so using them will make the piece longer without the inclusion of any new information.

But the truth is these things are the easiest to detect and check even before the teacher starts reading your research paper or coursework. Statistics tab allows seeing the exact word number, and clicking anywhere in the middle of a typed line indicates the type and size of the font used.  So skip it for good and make a robust overhaul of your story in terms of better composition and supporting evidence.

Tip #3: Go Back Through Your Introduction and Conclusion

After putting the last full stop, you may look at the introduction and conclusion and see if they reflect what you have said in the body. It may happen so that you will need to expand your thesis by several words, add more background info, or entirely rewrite the conclusion. Adding more specific points to the summarizing section will lengthen your essay, the result you aim for.

Tip #4: Use multiple examples to back up your argument

This is universal advice you should use. Whether making the first draft, or seeking to boost the volume of the text, add relevant examples where possible. Borrowed from the textbook or based on your experience, they add credibility and make your work look well designed and engaging.

Tip #5: Have Someone Proofread Your Essay

Editing does not always mean shortening. In your case, it means looking for gaps in argument and filling these gaps with new sentences. After finishing, ask someone to read the paper and say what is unclear. These gaps are your slots to fill with extra word count (be sure to write essential things). When you proofread it yourself, see where a single short verb can be replaced with a formal phrase or a more complex sentence structure. Look up words in the dictionary and select longer and more formal ones. “Link” can be replaced with ‘build connection”, reach out – establish contact or seek contact, agree – give consent, you can assist, introduce more clarity or highlight the ideas with empirical evidence instead of a simple ‘clarify’ or ‘give citation’.

Tip #6: Use Quotations

Yes, we know – according to standards, quotations can take only 10 to 20% of the whole writing, not more. But make sure you use this allowed space in full. Check the total number of characters, number of characters indirect citations, and see if you still have some margin of allowed space to use. Pick citations wisely, and maybe you will further increase the word count by explanations of the citations you picked. Consider even smarter way out: retell the citation in your own words, and so it becomes a valid part of your research.

Tip #7: Cite a Few Sources

If you feel that the source you use does not feature proper citations, it is time to find another source. Google a scholarly article on the topic (no shady websites, please), and high chances are you will find a fresh citation to add and one more cool entry for your reference list. Combo! 

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Tip #8: Review Your Outline

If you have one, look through it once again. Maybe you did not cover a couple of points or can include something new that was missed before. Ask someone to look at the outline, as well. They can see gaps in reasoning faster than you, and so you will come up with a few new sentences to jot down.

Tip #9: Include More Transitional Phrases

Transitional phrases and sentences are a sign of good academic writing and an excellent way to boost page count. To give you a clue, here are the most common transitions that make thinking look logic and smooth:

  • To begin with;
  • Hence;
  • Thus;
  • With regards to…;
  • As a consequence;
  • In light of;
  • However;
  • In contrast;
  • On one hand;
  • On the other hand;
  • Therefore;
  • To sum it up.

Transitional sentences are sentences that lead readers from one section to another, linking thoughts into a firmly connected story. They close one chapter and hint on what will be discussed in the next one. E.g., ‘The mentioned evidence demonstrates that the suggested legal initiative was a failure, so in the next few months, the legislative branch introduced a new, improved version of the bill.” They are a cool way to increase the length without making it watery.

Tip #10: Check Your Paragraph Format

The above tip relates to this point as well. The paragraph structure is complex, and this complexity allows you to boost the text size endlessly. This structure includes a topic sentence, evidence from sources, and explanations that prove your position. Profs usually ask for more reasoning of your own, because it is what shows how you understood the material. So use it broadly, just as the teacher required! Jot down everything you have to say on the topic, cite, retell citations, and thoroughly explain why you chose these citations and such topic sentences. And do not skip transitions!

Tip #11: See if You Can Prove Yourself Wrong

Yes, in texts where you discuss controversial issues, mentioning and refuting the opponent’s view is a key to winning a debate. Look up the most common objections to what you say and question yourself if your text gives enough information to render these objections invalid. Is this section missing? Congrats, you have just found what to add. This inclusion will make a whole right section and an additional page or two in length.

Tip #12: Make Sure Your Paper Structure is Solid

Check if all sections are here. Introduction, conclusion, body sections, topic sentences, evidence, your ideas, support citations –  good work covers a lot of things. Profs deduct grades for lame structure, so check that.

Tip #13: Take a Break and Read Your Paper Out Loud

Yes, this simple trick works. After spending a few hours on the text, you become blind to possible mistakes and gaps. Take a bit of rest, then return to it and read. Thus, you will distance yourself from the task and assess it more strictly and objectively. Spots, where more words and sentences can be inserted to boost count, will become evident to you.

Tip #14: Ask Your Instructor for Help

Professor’s goal is not to humiliate you or give you a bad mark. The goal is to teach you to think, analyze, and put your thoughts together for others to read them. So if there is a chance to come through the draft or ready assignment with a professor or teaching assistant, do it. Book a date and ask for advice. Most probably, you will get good ideas on what to add and how to improve your essay writing.

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