12 Real Ways to Make an Essay Longer

, Staff Writer
Updated October 30, 2020
Stressed high school student writing essay
    Stressed high school student writing essay
    FG Trade / E+ / Getty

If you’re struggling to meet that minimum word count, it helps to know how to make an essay longer without ruining your hard work with repetition. Teachers can spot fluff in an essay a mile away, so you don’t want to just add words or repeat yourself. Focus on real ways to make it longer (and better at the same time), and you’ll end up meeting that word count minimum and scoring a good grade, too.

1. Check the Prompt or Assignment Again

While you may think you’ve already answered the prompt or tackled the assignment, you may have missed something. Think about the essay questions and prompts from new angles. Is there another way to look at the issue? Can you be more thorough?

If you’re in doubt, ask your teacher for help. He or she may suggest some new ways you can think about the topic.


2. Make Sure You Have Included Everything

Remember that outline you made before you started writing? Check it again. Did you include everything on it? You may find you skipped a few things that didn’t seem necessary as you were writing.

If you didn’t write an outline, now is the time to do it. It’s not too late. Think about what you’ve written so far and think about what your audience needs to know that you may not have included. Then craft an outline that can help you expand.

3. Take Another Look at Your Introduction

Your introduction is one of the most important parts of your essay. It has to capture your reader’s attention and set the tone for your entire essay, all in the space of a paragraph. That doesn’t have to be a short paragraph, however.

If you glossed over your introduction, take a moment to revise it. How can you make it better by adding information or expanding on the ideas you already have? What will make it even more attention-grabbing? Can you add a story or a quote?


4. Add More Evidence and References

Your essay can always be stronger, and the way to make it awesome is to add more evidence (and the references that go with that evidence). Go back to your outline and ask yourself how you could better support each point you are making. Add those supporting details.

If this is a persuasive essay, anticipate what someone who disagrees with your thesis might say. What evidence will destroy the opposing argument? Can you add one more piece of evidence for each point or paragraph?

5. Bring in Relevant Quotations

Just as you’re using references and evidence to support your point, you can also strengthen (and lengthen) your essay by adding relevant quotations. The key word here is “relevant.” These can’t be random, and you don’t want them to be more than a sentence or two.

For example, say you are writing an essay about a book you read. You can make your essay more powerful by adding a short quote or two from the book - especially if the quote supports the points you are making.


6. Improve and Expand Your Descriptions

If you’re writing a personal essay or a descriptive essay of some kind, your descriptions will be extremely important. They may already be good, but you can make them better (and longer).

One way to do this is to bring in imagery and sensory details. Think about what someone in the situation you’re describing might see or hear. Then think even more about what they might taste, smell, or feel. Choose one or two senses and write your descriptions with that kind of imagery in mind. You’ll likely have more words, and you’ll definitely have a better description.

7. Expand Each Paragraph for Clarity

Go through your essay a paragraph at a time, looking for things that might not be clear to the reader. Clarity is an essential part of a good essay, and it usually requires a few more words to help explain things.

Imagine you don’t know anything about this topic. Do you launch into a topic without explaining the basics? Take a moment to define important terms after you use them, since jargon can be confusing for readers.


8. Enhance Your Transitions

A good essay has smooth transitions from one paragraph to another. These transitions are a sign of great writing, and they also take up extra space on the page. Including great transitions in your essay will make it longer and better at the same time.

Use transition words and phrases like “with this in mind,” “on the contrary,” and “because….” These transitions should come at the beginning of each paragraph or the end of the paragraph just before it. Connecting one paragraph to the next helps your essay flow smoothly.

9. Rethink Your Word Choices

You can improve your essay and make it longer by choosing the right words and phrases. Print out a copy of your essay and sit down with a highlighter. Highlight any word that relates to your thesis but is not an especially powerful word.

Once you have a list of weak words, use a thesaurus to find better options. It’s okay if the new words are longer or if you need to use more than one word to convey the concept; that will help your essay grow in length.


10. Get Rid of Contractions and Abbreviations

There’s nothing wrong with using contractions in your writing; however, they can add a casual touch to your essay. If you want your work to sound more serious, replace the contractions with the longer versions. You’ll find this also makes your essay a bit longer.

Similarly, abbreviations can feel casual, and in many cases, they aren’t the correct choice for an essay. Consult your style guide if you’re in doubt, but in general, don’t abbreviate.

11. Make Your Conclusion Rock Solid

Your conclusion is another opportunity to make your essay even better than it is and make it longer at the same time. Take a few minutes to read your conclusion and think about it from the perspective of a reader.

Does your conclusion sound final? Does it sum up everything you’ve talked about and give the reader a direction or main point to consider? If not, enhance it.


12. Ask a Friend What’s Missing

Once you’ve done everything you can to add to your essay, you can also ask a trusted friend for advice. Have your friend read the essay and give you feedback. Ask them to look for what might be missing or unclear about your work.

It’s not always easy to receive constructive criticism about your writing, but with the help of a trusted reader, you’ll have a better idea of what to add to your work.

Longer and Stronger

No matter how you choose to expand your essay, make sure you are making it stronger and not just longer. Avoid repeating yourself for no reason and using gimmicks like increasing font size or spacing. Focus instead on writing the best essay you can, and you’ll find you make the word count requirement with no trouble at all.