How Long is a Paragraph?
When tasked with an essay assignment, the first question students ask is, how long is a paragraph? A majority of the time, instructors will give the word count limit for the entire paper but often the length of each paragraph is not stated. If your professor has given you an outline for the essay and allocated a said number of words for each section then count yourself lucky. But if the essay falls somewhat in the grey area and you are questioning how long should a paragraph be in academic writing, then you are in the right place.
This article intends to give you insights to answer the question, how long is a paragraph? Remember, the length of a paragraph is not only based on the number of sentences or words but also based on the content. We will show you how.
How Long is a Paragraph?
A paragraph is a collection of sentences that express a specific and similar idea. Every form of writing like journals, novel, books, and even academic essays are made up of successive paragraphs. Even though the art of writing is an age-old form of communication, there have always been debates centered on how long should a paragraph be.
Some experts contend that a paragraph should be about three sentences, while others that a paragraph should be five sentences. Other linguists propose that a paragraph should be one or two hundred words. So how long is a paragraph?
The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to paragraphs. There are different guiding principles to how long a paragraph should be. It is not accurate to only measure the length of a paragraph with words or sentences without looking at the bigger picture. That is the entire essay.
How Long is a Paragraph in an Academic Paper?
As mentioned, an academic paper just like many forms of formal writing does not have a specific length of a paragraph. In this type of writing, you can work out the length of a paragraph with a percentage. For instance, to answer the question, how long is an introduction paragraph when you are given a specific word count? An introduction should be about 10% of the entire paper.
If your professor has instructed you to write a 2000-word essay and you are wondering how long should an introduction paragraph be. It should be around 200 words, which is 10% of 2000. The other question that students often fumble on is how long is a body paragraph in an essay.
In academic essays, every paragraph in the body section should have a topic sentence, followed by supporting arguments, a concluding sentence, and a transitioning sentence to create a flow between paragraphs. Therefore, depending on the length of the essay, you need a couple of sentences to support the main idea. For example, in a 2000-word essay, short paragraphs would not be ideal. Each body paragraph should ideally be more than 150 words.
A great rule to have on how long a paragraph should be in an essay is sticking to equal length. This means that if the first body paragraph is 170 words, then the subsequent paragraphs should remain along those lines between 160 words to 180 words. The only exceptions are the introduction and concluding paragraphs.
Here are some guidelines to help you if you are wondering how long is a paragraph in an essay. always remember that the length of a paragraph does not depend solely on the number of sentences.
1. Have one main idea in one paragraph. You can have more than one paragraph discussing an idea but you cannot have one paragraph discussing two ideas.
2. Body paragraphs should be proportional throughout the essay. Unequal paragraphs are visually unappealing.
3. Have short paragraphs for short essays and longer paragraphs for longer essays.
4. If you have ideas that can only be expressed in very short paragraphs consider whether you can assimilate them into other paragraphs or lengthen them. Add details to support each paragraph and make the full developed.
How Long is a Paragraph in a Technical Paper?
Academic papers are formal but technical writing is considered the most formal way of writing. There are no specific rules on how long should a paragraph be in technical writing. Nonetheless, it would be wise to stick to 100 to 120 words. For these papers, long paragraphs are not ideal. Here all your ideas should be specific and written precisely. Thus, if a paragraph is more than a third of the page, it is too long for a technical paper.
When writing an essay, sometimes you may have dozens of ideas that are valid to the topic. You may have statistical and historical data that strongly supports your thesis. If you choose to put all this information in your essay and make each paragraph too lengthy, you may lose your readers' attention. Therefore, how long a paragraph should be in an essay, also depends on how long you can hold your reader’s attention.
There you have it, a guide to answer the long-debated question, how long is a paragraph? The next time you are assigned essay homework, start by planning out the length of your paragraphs and ensure you grab your readers' attention.
If you are still unsure of how to structure your essay, Homework Owls has a team of expert writers well-equipped to answer all your questions and help you.