What If My Essay Is Too Short

Tricks to make an essay longer or shorter

My essay is too short. My research paper is too long. Those are problems anyone can have while writing a research paper. If you're looking for ideas, tricks and tips on how to make your essay longer or shorter, you've come to the right place. Check out our ways to stretch and condense your paper below.

My essay is too short. How do I make it longer?

If your paper is not long enough and you need to make an essay longer, there are some tips and tricks you can use to stretch what you've written longer.

1. If you need to fill space, use lots of quotes, especially long quotes. Using MLA style, long quotes have to be set in, or indented, several spaces into the page and one quote can fill a quarter of a page, no problem. Just be sure the quote is actually pertinent to the topic being writing about.

2. 2. Need more space filler? Use an anecdote or story. If you are writing about an important person or event, tell an interesting, funny or strange story about their life or the topic. Find some way that the story connects to your essay.

3. If you include lengthy citations or source-credits (the author, name of the book or article, when it was written and such) within the text (as well as in your bibliography), you can fill in a bunch more space.

4. Be repetitious or use more than one example, quote or statistic to prove the same point.

5. When you write lists, separate each item into a separate sentence with its own thought. One sentence becomes a paragraph just like that!

6. 5. Finally, be wordy. Use lots of adjectives, or descriptive words, and lots of transition words (such as therefore, inasmuch, however, although, despite the fact, moreover...).


1. Instead of - "In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is an interesting character. She has many important lines."

2. Write - "In playwright and actor William Shakespeare's immortal tale of darkness, murder and intrigue, the classic thriller Macbeth, the diabolical character of Lady Macbeth has long captured readers and audiences alike with her fascinating and sinister ways. In the play Macbeth, also called the Scottish Play by generations of superstition-following actors, the leading lady pulls audiences in with compelling dialogue, from “Yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o' the milk of human kindness” to the famed “Out damned spot! Out I say!”

1. Instead of "Statistics show that drunk driving is a problem in Texas, Alaska and New Hampshire."

2. Write "The ongoing and serious problem of drunk driving is a nationwide scourge that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. To cite some examples, in 1995 there were 13,000 people killed on the highways of the state of Texas, according to the National Institute of Made Up Statistics. Those numbers are mirrored in the state of Alaska, with 4,000 people killed every year, and again can be seen in the averages reported from New Hampshire, which tally up to 10,000 killed annually. In fact, the same problem can be seen in such states as ..." (Those statistics are completely made up, by the way - don't quote them).

My essay is too long. How do I make it shorter?

1. Read for quality of the content and be ruthless. If something isn't adding anything to a paper that's already pretty good, delete it.

2. Use contractions. Make "cannot" into "can't" and so forth.

3. Delete repetitious or unnecessary words.

4. Take out a quote or two or see if the quote can be shorter.

5. Delete examples if you've already proven your point with another example.

6. Delete flowery language and get to the point.

7. Delete adjectives.

8. Play with the paper margins, font size, size of the headers and footers, space between letters (calling leading) and space between lines. If your paper is double-spaced, switch it to .75 line between.

9. Decide if it's really necessary to fit into the length requirement. If the teacher won't mind that you go over by a page, then don't worry about it. If in doubt, just ask him or her.

10. Ask someone else (who is a good writer) to read the paper and ask them what is unnecessary.

More information: We hope this page was helpful and provided you with some information about how to make your essay longer or your research paper shorter or vice versa. Check out our main page for more articles here Can U Write.

This post is by Emily Wenstrom, a lit addict, movie junkie, and writer. Emily’s short story zine, Wordhaus, recently began accepting submissions. You can also follow her on her blog, Creative Juicer, and on Twitter (@emilywenstrom). Thanks Emily!

When I completed the first draft of my first-ever novel last December, I promptly did a little victory dance.

And then I sat back down and took the word count, which completely killed my buzz. My manuscript rang in at little over 45,000—half the length of your average novel. Eep! I had a minor freakout. What was I going to do?

Adding up the words. Notice the calculator on the left? Photo by mpclemens.

But fortunately, rationality eventually returned. This was only a first draft, after all. Surely there was some room for development. Turns out, there was tons.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are five of the best ways I’ve discovered to beef up your word count without diluting your story:

1. Pace Yourself

It didn’t take me long to notice a recurring issue with pacing in my first draft. There were many scenes where I had a big moment in my head itching to get out, and rushed the buildup. Now that it was all on paper, it was much easier to go back and fill in the missing pieces.

2. Review Your Original Outline

Over the course of the fifteen months that it took me to map out the plot and write my first draft, I’d managed to forget a few pieces of my original plan. Reviewing my outline was a helpful refresher. And it triggered some new ideas, too, pulling together the original concept and the story it matured into.

3. Connect Your Loose Threads

I took some time to think about elements that could complement and enrich what I’d already gotten on paper. There were a few stand-alone scenes that I loved, and when I took the time to think about why, I realized there was a lot of unexplored potential in them that could serve the story well many times over.

4. Support Your Scenes

My first draft drew a pretty straight line start to finish. A happens, then B, then C. It lacked complexity. Where’s the fun in that? Close review and some brainstorming gave me new ways to add obstacles into it with smaller events in between the major ones.

5. Create a Crowd with Minor Characters

My hero’s a bit of a loner. He’s alone for almost all of the story, as told in my first draft. It kept the story tight… too tight, I realized. Some parts of the plot pretty thin with just one character. By forcing him into more interactions with some of my side characters, I was able to make those scenes more dynamic. It also created more conflicting motivations for my hero, upping the tension.

Double Your Word Count

By the time I got through assessing all these different ways to beef up my story, I was psyched about the stronger story that was going to emerge from it, and couldn’t wait to get started.

It’s taking me about as long to build out as it took to write my entire first draft. Doubling my word count and making all the changes to churn out my story into a full novel is requiring a lot of restructuring. Some scenes have been so cut up and messy they’ve become full demolition zones.

But when I look back over my reconstructed work, it’s clear that a stronger story is emerging, and it’s all worth it.

Have you ever come up well short of your word count goal? How did you handle it?


Is there a place in your work in progress that’s reading a little thin? Take fifteen minutes and review it carefully. What’s missing from it? Are the stakes high enough? Is the pacing off? Does it require more buildup? What can you do to make it stronger?

Share your observations in the comments to get the feedback of the community.

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