How Long Is an Essay? The Ultimate Essay Length Guide

It’s safe to say that most students struggle with the word limit within an essay. Sometimes, it’s hard to find ideas for a text and meet the word requirement for every part of the paper. With so many factors influencing essay length, it’s easy to get confused.

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The picture enumerates the factors influencing essay length.

Luckily, our custom-writing team has your back. In this article, our custom-writing experts will answer all your questions regarding essay length. We will also help you write papers with an ideal number of words!

📜 Is Essay Length Important?

📏 essay parts: recommended length.

  • 🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer
  • 📑 Essay Length & Formatting
  • ❓ Different Academic Levels FAQ
  • 📚 Essay Length: Different Types
  • ⭐ Other Aspects
  • 📝 Essay Examples

🔍 References

Often, the phrase “word limit” causes panic among students. After all, if an essay is too long or too short, your grade will be lowered. However, in reality, there’s nothing to worry about. When it comes to words, limitations are beneficial for both the students and the professors.

Let’s see what exactly it means.

Many people believe that the longer an essay is, the better. However, according to Frontiers, research shows that it’s a bias that couldn’t be further from the truth. A perfect-length paper is one that allows students to express their ideas and showcase their knowledge fully while keeping it clean and simple.

What Influences Essay Length

Various factors determine the length of an essay. Here are the most important ones:

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Let’s start with the essentials. Usually, assignment length is given as a number of words rather than pages. Unless your supervisor or instructor mentions any specific limitations, it’s acceptable to be 10% below or above the word limit.

It’s also worth knowing the 80/20 rule . According to it, the body should constitute 80% of the text, while the intro and the conclusion take up the remaining 20%.

Keep reading to learn more about the recommended length of each essay part. The main numbers are shown in the table below:

How Long Should an Introduction Be?

An introduction is the first section and the face of your essay. For that reason, it needs to be compelling and well-thought-out. Usually, it consists of 3 to 5 sentences or 50 to 80 words .

An introduction must have a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. While the attention grabber and the thesis are usually brief, you may need 2 to 3 sentences for the background. To avoid going overboard, try to stay on topic and don’t add any filler.

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How Long Is a Body Paragraph in an Essay?

The length of a body paragraph may vary. Sometimes, it can be limited to a single sentence. In other cases, it may take up a whole page. Usually, it’s recommended to have between 80 and 200 words (5-8 sentences) per body paragraph.

Since the paper’s body contains the most information, it’s necessary to explain and support your ideas properly. That’s why it’s no big deal if your body paragraphs go slightly over the word limit.

How Many Body Paragraphs Should Be in an Essay?

Like the word count, the number of paragraphs is determined by the type of paper and its topic. The minimum is 1. Generally, however, the body consists of 3-5 paragraphs , 1 for each argument.

To improve your paper’s structure, ensure that there are as many paragraphs as there are points in your thesis statement. Each one should have a purpose and support your arguments. If there’s any fluff, it’s better to get rid of it.

How Long Should a Conclusion Be?

Like the introduction, the conclusion consists of 50-80 words . It’s essential to keep it simple and only mention the central ideas. A weak concluding sentence may affect the reader’s understanding of the topic and spoil the overall impression of your paper.

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🤔 How to Make Essays Shorter or Longer: Best Tips

Undoubtedly the essay’s content is more important than the number of words you use. But there are times when students go more than 10-15% below or over the limit. Is there a solution to this problem?

Yes, there is! In this section, we will share the most useful tips to help you stay on point with your paper’s word count.

How to Make Essays Longer

Since having enough words is essential for a good grade, we’ve collected the best tips that can help you lengthen your essay without teachers noticing:

  • Use relevant quotations.  You don’t need to litter your essay with citations, but using them whenever appropriate is a great idea. For instance, if you’re working on a book analysis, referencing a couple of direct quotes from the source text will make your essay more credible and increase the word count.
  • Give examples.  Go through the claims in your paper and provide additional evidence where possible. It will make your essay longer and more informative.
  • Use transitional expressions.  Adding transition words and phrases is a natural way of increasing the number of words. It will also improve your essay’s readability. 
  • Add more references.  Providing references is always a good idea when writing a formal essay. That way, you will increase the number of words and make your paper more credible.
  • Work on your descriptions.  If you struggle to develop new ideas, go over what you’ve already written and consider adding some descriptive words. It’s a great idea for creative essays to include more imagery. 

How to Shorten an Essay

Another struggle of academic writing is cutting down the number of words in your essay to meet a set limit. We are here to tell you that it’s not that hard. Writing straightforwardly and keeping your sentences short is a key to concise content. Here are several strategies you may use to tighten a lengthy essay:

  • Choose the active voice.  It takes up less space than passive voice. Using it also makes your writing more professional and compelling.
  • Remove needless transitions.  Transitions can indeed maintain the flow of the paper. But some transitional phrases can be easily removed.
  • Get rid of unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.  Some students tend to overuse adjectives and adverbs. It adds wordiness to their writing.
  • Avoid running starts.  Some students like to start their sentences with long phrases like: “there are,” “it is believed,” or “the fact that.” Getting rid of them makes texts much more concise.
  • Delete “that.”  In most cases, the word “that” can often be easily removed from texts.

Another cool trick is to use our summarizing tool as essay shortener. Try it out!

📑 How Long Is an Essay Depending on Formatting?

As we mentioned earlier, the essay’s length is usually limited by the number of words. But sometimes, a teacher may ask you to write a specific number of pages. This is trickier because the amount of text you can place on the page depends on the formatting. By using the font size and spacing properly, it’s possible to make the paper visually longer or shorter. Let’s discuss it in more detail.

The picture describes how formatting affects essay length.

Essay Spacing: How Does It Affect the Length?

  • Adjusting the spacing between lines.  Try to make the changes as slight as possible. For instance, if you were asked to double-space the paper, use 2.1 or 2.2 spacing instead. Another option is to slightly extend spaces between paragraphs.
  • Extending the margin size.  You can increase the right and bottom margins by a quarter to make very subtle changes in length. For example, if the margins are 1 inch , you can set them at 1.25 inches instead. 
  • Increasing the spacing between characters.  It is less noticeable than the line spacing. Still, try not to overdo it and keep the numbers between 1.2 and 1.5 . 
  • Adjusting the footer.  Add a footer with page numbers to stretch the bottom margin even further.
  • Lengthening the header.  You can extend your header by adding your name, e-mail address, or other relevant information. Another option is double-spacing it.

Length of an Essay: Font and Size

  • Using the right type of font.  If your instructor didn’t specify which font you should use, go for the bigger ones. We suggest Arial, Bangla Sangam MN, Cambria, or Quicksand. They will make your text look longer without being too on the nose.  
  • Using a bigger font size.  This is another technique that can come in handy. However, be careful and don’t increase your font by more than 0.1-0.5 pt.  
  • Increasing the size of periods and commas.   This is one of the less noticeable tricks you can use. For instance, if your paper’s font is 12 pt. , increase it to 14 pt. only for punctuation marks. Italicizing periods and commas will also add several lines of length to your essay. 

What to Do if There Are No Length Guidelines

Sometimes a teacher sets no word limit for a written work. What to do in that case? Well, first, you can ask your professor to confirm if they have simply forgotten to mention it. But if that’s not the case, here are a couple of helpful solutions:

  • Think of the paragraph number.  Sometimes, you may be given the number of paragraphs instead of words. In that case, you can decide on the number of words depending on how many paragraphs you have. 
  • Think about the topic’s complexity.  The length of your paper is also directly dependent on the theme. If the topic is simple, 4-5 paragraphs will be enough. A more complex issue may require an in-depth explanation, so your essay can be 6-8 paragraphs long.

❓ Essay Length for Different Academic Levels FAQ

The length of the elementary school essay is usually short. Usually, a paper needs to have around 3-5 paragraphs, with 4-5 sentences per paragraph. Primary school essays can be 1-2 paragraphs long.

The word limit for a middle school essay is usually between 300 to 1000 words. The most common essay length is 500 words, which is about 5 paragraphs. However, it may differ from school to school.

The length of the high school essay may differ depending on the school and the complexity of the task itself. Usually, however, a paper can be between 300 to 1000 words long.

The length of the undergraduate college essay often falls within the range of 1500 to 2100 words. It translates into roughly 5-7 pages. 5 pages is the most common essay length at this level.

When it comes to the graduate school admission essay, the word limit is usually between 500 and 1000 words. It’s possible to go slightly over or below the set limit; however, it’s best to stick to the requirements as close as possible.

📚 How Long Should an Essay Be: Different Types

Now, let’s talk about different types of essays. How long should they be? Keep reading to learn about the length of college essays, short and extended ones, scholarship essays, and research papers.

How Long Is a College Essay?

When it comes to a college essay, it’s more important to stick to the word limit than with any other paper. Some teachers may refuse to read it unless it meets all the requirements.

The shortest limit for a college essay is about 250 words which is the shortest length of a Common App personal statement. It’s also rare to see a good college essay with over 650 words . So, an average piece usually has between 150 and 650 words ; you can go over or below the limit by 50.

How Long Is a Paragraph in College Essays?

A college essay usually consists of 4-5 paragraphs . One paragraph takes about 1/3 of the page, which is roughly 5 sentences . Each sentence corresponds with one of the following components:

  • Topic sentence.
  • Explanation.
  • Transitions.

College Essay Length Requirements: Top 5 Schools

To understand the requirements for a college application essay even better, take a look at the table below. It showcases the top 5 schools and their length criteria for personal statements. Keep it in mind when writing your college essay:

How Long Is a Short Essay?

A short essay is usually 500 words long. Using 12pt Times New Roman font with standard margins and double spacing should result in about 2 pages of text.

Extended Essay Length

An extended essay is different from a short or a standard one. It requires extensive research and thorough explanation. That’s why the upper limit for this kind of essay is 4000 words . In this case, a typical essay length is 3500 words or 18 paragraphs .

Scholarship Essay Length

Generally, scholarship papers have a limit of 500 words , which is 1 page in length. Most scholarship programs provide additional requirements that indicate the minimum number of words or pages. If there are no set limitations, you can stick to the limit.

How Long Is a Research Paper?

Typically, a research paper is between 4000 and 6000 words long. Sometimes, there are shorter papers, which have around 2000 words, or in-depth ones with over 10000 words.

⭐ Other Aspects of Essay Length

When it comes to essay length, many different aspects come into play. Here, we’ve gathered all the essential information regarding an essay’s number of pages, paragraphs, words, and references.

How Many Paragraphs Are in an Essay?

Sometimes, it is more convenient to count paragraphs rather than words. Let’s now figure out how many paragraphs are in essays of different lengths. You may also check out the examples to see what such an essay looks like:

How to Count Paragraphs in an Essay Based on Word Count

You can also count the number of body paragraphs for your essay using the formula below:

Number of body paragraphs (average) = (TWC – TWC*0.16)/100

  • TWC – total word count
  • 0.16 – an average percentage of total word count for introduction and conclusion
  • 100 – an average number of words per paragraph

How Many Pages Are in an Essay?

The number of pages in your essay may vary from subject to subject. But it’s still possible to determine the number of pages based on word count. Check out the numbers below to see the conversions with bonus examples:

You can also use a specialized calculator such as Word Counter to determine a number of pages in your essay.

What Does an Essay Look Like when Typed?

You might be wondering: what do essays of different lengths look like when typed? Well, here’s the table where you can find out the metrics for single- and double-spaced papers.

How Many Pages Are in a Handwritten Essay?

In case you need to turn in a handwritten paper, you should check out the table below.

Counting Words in a Handwritten Essay

If you don’t have enough time to count the words in your handwritten essay one by one, here’s what you can do:

  • Count how many words there are in one line. Take the first and last lines and a line in the middle of a page. Let’s say there are 15, 14, and 15 words in them. Then, the average number of words per line is 15.
  • Next, count how many lines there are on one page. Let’s say there are 17 lines on a page.
  • Take the number of words per line and multiply it by the number of lines per page. In our case, we multiply 15 by 17. So, there are 255 words per page on average.
  • Finally, multiply the number of words per page by the number of pages. If your essay has 3 pages, it is approximately 765 words long.

How Long Does it Take to Write an Essay?

It is crucial to know how long writing will take you, especially if you are working on an exam essay or just short on time. Note that you need to consider the time for typing and researching necessary to complete a piece. Research time may vary. Usually, it’s 1-2 hours for 200-250 words .

The picture shows the fact about the average speed of writing.

Below, we’ve gathered the average writing time for average and slower writing speed:

And here are the results in pages:

How Many References Does an Essay Need?

Another essential part of any composition is the reference list. Different academic levels require different references. You’ll find out how many of them should be in your paper in the table below!

📝 Essay Examples: Different Length

Finally, we’ve gathered some excellent sample essays of different lengths. Make sure to check them out!

We also recommend you check out our free essay samples sorted by pages:

  • 1-Page Essay Examples
  • 2-Page Essay Examples
  • 3-Page Essay Examples
  • 4-Page Essay Examples
  • 5-Page Essay Examples
  • 10-Page Essay Examples
  • 20-Page Essay Examples
  • 30-Page Essay Examples
  • 40-Page Essay Examples
  • 50-Page Essay Examples

Now you know all about essay length, word limits, and ways to lengthen or shorten your text. If you know other interesting tricks, make sure to share them in a comment! Good luck with your writing assignments!

You may also like:

  • How to Write a Process Analysis Essay: Examples & Outline
  • How to Write a Precis: Definition, Guide, & Examples 
  • How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: Examples & Guide
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Template & Examples
  • How to Write a Formal Essay: Format, Rules, & Example
  • Word Limits and Assignment Length: Massey University
  • The Paragraph in the College Essay: California State University, Long Beach
  • Introductions & Conclusions: The University of Arizona Global Campus
  • How Long Should a Paragraph Be?: Daily Writing Tips
  • Paragraphing (Length Consistency): Purdue University
  • Hitting the Target Word Count in Your College Admission Essay: Dummies.com
  • How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What is the Ideal Length?: College Vine
  • Writing Personal Statements Online: Issues of Length and Form: Penn State University
  • Pen Admissions: Essays: University of Pennsylvania
  • Essay Questions: University of Michigan
  • Essay Structure: Harvard University
  • Components of a Good Essay: University of Evansville
  • Write Your Essay: UNSW Sydney
  • College Writing: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 21 Helpful and Easy Tips to Make an Essay Longer: Seventeen
  • How to Make a College Paper Longer: ThoughtCo
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How to Write an Introduction to an Essay

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Written by  Scribendi

An Introduction to How to Write an Introduction

I once had a professor tell a class that he sifted through our pile of essays, glancing at the titles and introductions, looking for something that grabbed his attention. Everything else went to the bottom of the pile to be read last, when he was tired and probably grumpy from all the marking.

"Don't get put at the bottom of the pile," he said.

We don't want you, intrepid essay writer, to end up at the bottom of the pile because of poor essay writing. We want you to know how to write an introduction that grabs attention and gets noticed. 

An essay introduction does exactly what its name implies: it introduces the subject of the paper to readers. Most importantly, it provides readers with a map of the overall paper. A good introduction captures readers' attention, tells them what the paper is about, and provides an outline of what is to come. 

The introduction is quite possibly the most important part of an essay, but it can also be the hardest for some writers. Don't fret; we're here to provide you with some tips and guidelines for writing introductions and staying on top of the pile.

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Hire one of our expert editors , or get a free sample, conventional introduction structure.

Your essay introduction should follow a specific structure , which should be helpful in guiding your writing. When thinking about how to write an introduction, remember that it will be structured into three parts: 

The background information

Your hook will be what grabs your reader (and keeps you from the bottom of that pile we mentioned earlier). The background information will give context to your topic or argument in a broad but relevant way. Finally, your thesis will summarize your overall argument in a sentence or two. 

How to Write an Introduction to an Essay

Hook Your Reader

To really draw readers into the introduction to an essay , start with something attention grabbing. This can be a startling fact, an interesting anecdote, or a relevant quote from an expert. 

Try not to lead with bland, factual statements or long, dry sentences when writing an introduction. The goal is to write something catchy and clear that will make the reader curious to read more. 

For example, instead of saying

A gig economy is a labor market that relies heavily on temporary and part-time positions filled by independent contractors . 

say something like

Most people would rather work to live than live to work, and the gig economy makes this possible .

Refer to our article about front matter for more ideas on how to write an introduction to your work. You can even present the point you are going to argue against.

Provide Background Information

In the introduction to an essay, provide readers with a little background or basic information about the topic you are covering. Start with the broader subject, and lead your readers to your specific topic. This is especially important when writing a book report. Show them how your topic relates to the bigger picture.

The background information you provide may vary, depending on the subject of your essay. If your essay is argumentative, for example, the background information in your introduction could be an outline of the argument you're positing. If your paper is more research oriented, this could mean a summary of theories that are relevant to the research you are presenting. 

Overall, the background information should include broad information that provides context to help your reader understand the point you're trying to make in your essay. Effective introduction writing means always keeping the reader in mind! 

Perfect Your Thesis Statement

The most important thing to include when writing an introduction is your thesis. A thesis statement is the main point of your paper; it is narrow, focused, and specific and very clearly explains your paper's topic. 

Essentially, a thesis functions as a brief summary of your essay. It can be something you are arguing for or against. However, when writing your thesis, try to avoid including all of your topic's information at once. Keep it succinct: it's a claim you are making. Save the additional details to develop the rest of your essay.  

In terms of positioning, the thesis should go at the very end of your essay introduction—don't forget to include it! Knowing how to write an introduction requires knowing that there's always a thesis at the end of it. 

Outline Your Essay

After providing your readers with some background and a thesis in your essay introduction, an easy way to flesh out the rest of your essay is with an outline . Outlines are a useful way to organize your ideas and form connections between them. They can act as an essay blueprint to guide your writing, so you never have to wonder what to write next.

There are two types of common outlines you can use to organize your essay: an alphanumeric outline or a decimal outline. An alphanumeric outline combines letters and numbers, with each category being a single idea (I. Idea #1, A. Sub-idea #1, 1. Sub-sub-idea #1, etc.). A decimal outline is used the same way, but it uses numbers to differentiate the sections (1, 1.1, 1.1.1, etc.). 

Whichever outline you choose after finishing your introduction writing, lay out your main points and arguments, preferably in the order in which you are going to discuss them. This is going to help you bring everything you outlined in your introduction together. 

Essay Introduction Examples

To get a good sense of how to write an introduction, it helps to look at examples. Check out the following essay introduction example to get a sense of a good essay hook, the type of background information to include, and a good thesis statement.

Societies have long believed that if a black cat crosses one's path, one might have bad luck—but it was not until King Charles I's black cat died that the ruler's bad luck began (Pemberton, 2018). Indeed, for centuries, black cats have been seen as the familiars of witches—as demonic associates of Satan who disrespect authority (Yuko, 2021). Yet, they have also been associated with good luck, from England's rulers to long-distance sailors (Cole, 2021). This essay shows how outdated the bad luck superstition really is. It provides a comprehensive history of the belief and then provides proof that this superstition has no place in today's modern society. It argues that despite the prevailing belief that animals cause bad luck, black cats often bring what seems to be "good luck" and deserve a new reputation.

Use the structure above to help with writing an introduction, and check out more essay introduction examples here .

While introduction writing can seem tough at the outset, a good structure, like the one we've mentioned in this post, will guide your thinking as you write your essay. 

Don't feel the need to write your introduction first if you're drawing a blank. Often, writers find it helpful to start with the body of their essay first so they know how to clearly convey their argument or topic in the introduction. For others, writing the introduction to an essay first helps guide the rest of their paper. 

Regardless of how you write your introduction, as long as you remember the key elements (hook, background information, and thesis), you're sure to keep your paper from the bottom of your professor's pile! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Write My Essay Introduction First?

Since some writers find introductions extremely hard to write, the simple answer to knowing when to start your introduction writing is to write it when it's easiest for you. 

As we mentioned earlier, it may be easier to write the introduction last (and maybe even write the conclusion and back matter first). On the other hand, other writers find that writing introductions first helps them set the direction of their paper. 

If you are struggling with how to write an introduction to your essay, put it aside for a while and continue with the body or conclusion of the paper. If you've written a good outline, you'll already know what topics you need to discuss, and your introduction will become clearer as you write. 

What Is the Purpose of a Thesis Statement?

The purpose of a thesis statement in your essay introduction is to share your interpretation of the subject you're discussing. It's a one-sentence statement that acts as a road map, signaling to the reader what you're going to argue or explain in your essay. A thesis statement also offers a way for your reader to understand your subject, whether it be smoking, social media, or the Civil War. 

Thesis statements are important given that the majority of writing in college involves some form of persuasion. Your goal is to convince readers that your point is logical and interesting enough to warrant attention. The good news is that once you've come up with your thesis statement, you can use it to settle on the evidence you'll need to develop and explain your argument throughout the rest of your essay. You won't be able to escape writing an introduction without it! 

How Long Should My Essay Introduction Be?

When it comes to introduction writing, there is no rule for exactly how long an introduction should be. When writing your essay introduction, you have to consider the length of your overall paper, per your professor.

An appropriate length for your introduction in a five-page essay is about half a page, but if you are writing a 40-page paper, your introduction will span several pages and multiple paragraphs. It comes down to what's expected of you, and not every essay introduction will be the same length. 

If you're still not sure how to write an introduction or determine its length, stick to the structure we've mentioned in this post: hook, background information, and thesis. It's a sure way to get your introduction finished and set your entire essay in motion.

Polish Your Conclusion to Leave an Impact on Your Reader

About the author.

Scribendi Editing and Proofreading

Scribendi's in-house editors work with writers from all over the globe to perfect their writing. They know that no piece of writing is complete without a professional edit, and they love to see a good piece of writing transformed into a great one. Scribendi's in-house editors are unrivaled in both experience and education, having collectively edited millions of words and obtained numerous degrees. They love consuming caffeinated beverages, reading books of various genres, and relaxing in quiet, dimly lit spaces.

Have You Read?

"The Complete Beginner's Guide to Academic Writing"

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how long should the background of an essay be

  • If you are writing in a new discipline, you should always make sure to ask about conventions and expectations for introductions, just as you would for any other aspect of the essay. For example, while it may be acceptable to write a two-paragraph (or longer) introduction for your papers in some courses, instructors in other disciplines, such as those in some Government courses, may expect a shorter introduction that includes a preview of the argument that will follow.  
  • In some disciplines (Government, Economics, and others), it’s common to offer an overview in the introduction of what points you will make in your essay. In other disciplines, you will not be expected to provide this overview in your introduction.  
  • Avoid writing a very general opening sentence. While it may be true that “Since the dawn of time, people have been telling love stories,” it won’t help you explain what’s interesting about your topic.  
  • Avoid writing a “funnel” introduction in which you begin with a very broad statement about a topic and move to a narrow statement about that topic. Broad generalizations about a topic will not add to your readers’ understanding of your specific essay topic.  
  • Avoid beginning with a dictionary definition of a term or concept you will be writing about. If the concept is complicated or unfamiliar to your readers, you will need to define it in detail later in your essay. If it’s not complicated, you can assume your readers already know the definition.  
  • Avoid offering too much detail in your introduction that a reader could better understand later in the paper.
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Introduction How to get an essay started

Getting started can often be difficult. Even professional writers say that the hardest part of writing is the beginning. Writing an introduction to an essay can therefore seem a daunting task, though it need not be so difficult, as long as you understand the purpose and the structure of the introduction. An example essay has been given to help you understand both of these, and there is a checklist at the end which you can use for editing your introduction.

Purpose of the introduction

When writing an introduction to an academic essay, it is useful to remember the main purpose of the introduction. In general, the introduction will introduce the topic to the reader by stating what the topic is and giving some general background information. This will help the reader to understand what you are writing about, and show why the topic is important. The introduction should also give the overall plan of the essay.

In short, the main purpose of the introduction is to:

  • introduce the topic of the essay;
  • give a general background of the topic;
  • indicate the overall plan of the essay.

This last purpose is perhaps the most important, and is the reason why many writers choose to write the introduction last , after they have written the main body , because they need to know what the essay will contain before they can give a clear plan.

Structure of the introduction

Although essays vary in length and content, most essays will have the same overall structure, including the introduction. The structure is related to the purpose mentioned above. The introduction to an essay should have the following two parts:

  • general statements (to introduce the topic and give the background);
  • a thesis statement (to show the structure).

General statements

The general statements will introduce the topic of the essay and give background information. The background information for a short essay will generally just be one or two sentences. The general statements should become more and more specific thesis statement , which is the most specific sentence of the introduction--> as the introduction progresses, leading the reader into the essay (some writers talk about "attracting the readers' attention", though for an academic essay, this is less important). For longer essays, the general statements could include one or more definitions , or could classify the topic, and may cover more than one paragraph.

The following is an example of background statements for a short essay ( given below ):

Although they were invented almost a hundred years ago, for decades cars were only owned by the rich. Since the 60s and 70s they have become increasingly affordable, and now most families in developed nations, and a growing number in developing countries, own a car.

These sentences introduce the topic of the essay (cars) and give some background to this topic (situation in the past, the situation now). These sentences lead nicely into the thesis statement (see below).

Thesis statement

The thesis statement is the most important part of the introduction. It gives the reader clear information about the content of the essay, which will help them to understand the essay more easily. The thesis states the specific topic, and often lists the main (controlling) ideas that will be discussed in the main body. It may also indicate how the essay will be organised, e.g. in chronological order, order of importance, advantages/disadvantages, cause/effect. It is usually at the end of the introduction, and is usually (but not always) one sentence long.

In short, the thesis statement:

  • states the specific topic of the essay;
  • often lists the main (controlling) ideas of the essay;
  • may indicate the method of organisation of the essay;
  • is usually at the end of the introduction;
  • is usually one sentence.

Here is an example of a thesis statement with no subtopics mentioned:

While cars have undoubted advantages, they also have significant drawbacks.

This thesis statement tells us the specific topic of the essay (advantages and disadvantages of cars) and the method of organisation (advantages should come first, disadvantages second). It is, however, quite general, and may have been written before the writer had completed the essay.

In the following thesis statement, the subtopics are named:

While cars have undoubted advantages, of which their convenience is the most apparent, they have significant drawbacks, most notably pollution and traffic problems.

This thesis gives us more detail, telling us not just the topic (advantages and disadvantages of cars) and the method of organisation (advantages first, disadvantages second), but also tells us the main ideas in the essay (convenience, pollution, traffic problems). This essay will probably have three paragraphs in the main body.

Example essay

Below is a discussion essay which looks at the advantages and disadvantages of car ownership. This essay is used throughout the essay writing section to help you understand different aspects of essay writing. Here it focuses on the thesis statement and general statements of the introduction (mentioned on this page), topic sentences , controlling ideas, and the summary and final comment of the conclusion. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay.

Although they were invented almost a hundred years ago, for decades cars were only owned by the rich. Since the 60s and 70s they have become increasingly affordable, and now most families in developed nations, and a growing number in developing countries, own a car. While cars have undoubted advantages, of which their convenience is the most apparent, they have significant drawbacks, most notably pollution and traffic problems . The most striking advantage of the car is its convenience. When travelling long distance, there may be only one choice of bus or train per day, which may be at an unsuitable time. The car, however, allows people to travel at any time they wish, and to almost any destination they choose. Despite this advantage, cars have many significant disadvantages, the most important of which is the pollution they cause. Almost all cars run either on petrol or diesel fuel, both of which are fossil fuels. Burning these fuels causes the car to emit serious pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxide. Not only are these gases harmful for health, causing respiratory disease and other illnesses, they also contribute to global warming, an increasing problem in the modern world. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (2013), transportation in the US accounts for 30% of all carbon dioxide production in that country, with 60% of these emissions coming from cars and small trucks. In short, pollution is a major drawback of cars. A further disadvantage is the traffic problems that they cause in many cities and towns of the world. While car ownership is increasing in almost all countries of the world, especially in developing countries, the amount of available roadway in cities is not increasing at an equal pace. This can lead to traffic congestion, in particular during the morning and evening rush hour. In some cities, this congestion can be severe, and delays of several hours can be a common occurrence. Such congestion can also affect those people who travel out of cities at the weekend. Spending hours sitting in an idle car means that this form of transport can in fact be less convenient than trains or aeroplanes or other forms of public transport. In conclusion, while the car is advantageous for its convenience , it has some important disadvantages, in particular the pollution it causes and the rise of traffic jams . If countries can invest in the development of technology for green fuels, and if car owners can think of alternatives such as car sharing, then some of these problems can be lessened.

Union of Concerned Scientists (2013). Car Emissions and Global Warming. www.ucsusa.org/clean vehicles/why-clean-cars/global-warming/ (Access date: 8 August, 2013)

Academic Writing Genres

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Below is a checklist for an essay introduction. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

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Find out how to structure the main body of an essay in the next section.

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Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 26 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of EAPFoundation.com. He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

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Understanding the Background in an Essay: Context and Significance

Table of contents, defining the background, the importance of context, establishing relevance, creating engagement, conclusion: framing the narrative.

  • Smith, John. "The Art of Effective Background Writing." Journal of Academic Writing, vol. 25, no. 2, 2018, pp. 87-104.
  • Jones, Emily. "Context Matters: The Role of Background Information in Comprehension." Reading Research Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 3, 2006, pp. 386-401.
  • Johnson, Robert. "Crafting Engaging Backgrounds: Techniques for Captivating Readers." Writing Techniques Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4, 2020, pp. 55-67.
  • Thompson, Laura. "The Significance of Context in Essay Writing." Academic Insights, vol. 12, no. 1, 2019, pp. 23-38.
  • Williams, David. "The Power of Relevance: Creating Lasting Impressions Through Effective Backgrounds." Rhetoric and Composition Journal, vol. 30, no. 2, 2015, pp. 120-135.

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Make Your Essay Structure Rock-Solid with These Tips

Lindsay Kramer

So you’ve been assigned an essay. Or, probably more realistically, two, three, or four essays  . . . and they’re all due the same week. 

We’ve all been there: overwhelmed, staring down that blank screen, and not sure which essay to start with or how to get it started. 

In high school and college, it’s not enough to just write strong essays. One of the most important skills to develop is writing strong essays efficiently . And the foundation of that skill is knowing how to structure an essay. With a template for the basic essay structure in hand, you can focus on what really matters when you’re writing essays: your arguments and the evidence you’re using to support them. Take a look at the basic essay structure below and see how the parts of an essay work together to present a coherent, well-reasoned position, no matter what topic you’re writing about. 

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Basic essay structure: the 3 main parts of an essay

Almost every single essay that’s ever been written follows the same basic structure: 

Introduction

Body paragraphs.

This structure has stood the test of time for one simple reason: It works. It clearly presents the writer’s position, supports that position with relevant examples, and neatly ties their supporting arguments together in a way that makes their position evident. 

It all starts here. This is where you introduce the topic you’re discussing in your essay and briefly summarize the points you’ll make in the paragraphs that follow. 

This is also where you state your thesis. Your thesis is the most important part of your essay because it’s the point you’re making . It needs to take a clear stance and shouldn’t include hedging language that undermines that stance like “seems to” or “possibly could.”

Here are a few examples of thesis statements:

  • In the final scene of The Awakening , Edna Pontellier’s decision demonstrates that it was impossible for her to have the lifestyle she truly wanted in the society in which she lived.
  • Due to its volatility and lack of government regulation, Bitcoin cannot become a viable currency for everyday purchases.
  • While the habitability of Mars has not yet been proven, evidence suggests that it was once possible due to bacteria samples found on the Red Planet.

An easy way to write your thesis statement is to think of it as a summary of your essay. Your thesis makes and supports your essay’s point in one concise sentence. 

When you proofread your finished essay, make sure your thesis is clearly stated in your introduction paragraph. If it’s not clear, go back and write a definitive thesis statement. 

>>Read More: How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Your essay’s body paragraphs are where you support your thesis statement with facts and evidence. Each body paragraph should focus on one supporting argument for your thesis by discussing related data, content, or events. 

If you’re not sure whether you should include a specific point or detail in your body paragraphs, refer back to your thesis statement. If the detail supports your thesis, it should be in your essay. If it doesn’t, leave it out. Your thesis statement is the core of your basic essay structure, so everything else in the essay needs to relate to it in some way. 

In your essay’s conclusion paragraph , you summarize the points you made and bring your argument to its logical conclusion. Because your reader is now familiar with your thesis, the summary in your conclusion paragraph can be more direct and conclusive than the one in your intro paragraph.

>>Read More: 7 Writing Tips from Professors to Help you Crush your First Essays

How many paragraphs are in an essay?

There’s no hard-and-fast requirement for college essays. In high school, you were probably taught to write five-paragraph essays. This is a solid essay structure to work with, but in college, you generally have more flexibility with assignment lengths and formats. 

Now, consider five the minimum—not the standard—number of paragraphs you should include in your essays. 

Essay structure examples

There are a few different ways to present information in an essay. Often, your assignment will tell you what kind of essay to write, such as a chronological, compare and contrast, or problems-methods-solution essay. If you’re not sure which is best for your assignment, ask your instructor. 

Chronological

A chronological essay guides the reader through a series of events. This essay structure is ideal if you’re writing about:

  • A current or historical event
  • A book or article you read for class
  • A process or procedure

With this kind of essay, you first introduce your topic and summarize the series of events in your introduction paragraph. Then, each body paragraph takes the reader through a key stage in that series, which might be a decisive battle in history, a pivotal scene in a novel, or a critical stage in a judicial process. In your conclusion, you present the end result of the series you discussed, underscoring your thesis with this result. 

Compare and contrast

A compare-and-contrast essay has a structure that discusses multiple subjects, like several novels, concepts, or essays you’ve been assigned to read.

There are a few different ways to structure a compare-and-contrast essay. The most obvious is to spend one paragraph discussing the similarities between the topics you’re covering (comparing), then one paragraph detailing their differences (contrasting), followed by a paragraph that explores whether they’re more alike or more different from each other. 

Another method is to only compare, where each of your body paragraphs discusses a similarity between the topics at hand. Or you can go the only-contrast route, where your body paragraphs explore the differences. Whichever you decide on, make sure each paragraph is focused on one topic sentence . Every new comparison or contrast should occupy its own paragraph.

Problems-methods-solution

As its name implies, this kind of essay structure presents the writer’s position in three segments:

  • Ways to resolve the problem 
  • The solution achieved by using these strategies to resolve the problem 

This kind of essay works great if you’re discussing methods for resolving a problem, like knowing how to distinguish between credible and non-credible sources when you’re doing research for assignments. It can also work when you’re tasked with explaining why certain solutions haven’t worked to fix the problems they were created for. 

With this kind of essay, begin by introducing the problem at hand. In the subsequent body paragraphs, cover possible methods for resolving the problem, discussing how each is suited to fixing the problem, and potential challenges that can arise with each. You can certainly state which you think is the best choice—that could even be your thesis statement. In your conclusion paragraph, summarize the problem again and the desired resolution, endorsing your method of choice (if you have one). 

In this kind of essay, you can also include a call to action in your final paragraph. A call to action is a direct order for the reader to take a specific action, like “call your congressperson today and tell them to vote no” or “visit grammarly.com today to add Grammarly browser extension for free.”

>>Read More: How to Write Better Essays: 5 Concepts you Must Master

With the basic essay structure down, you can get to writing

For a lot of students, getting started is the hardest part of writing an essay. Knowing how to structure an essay can get you past this seemingly insurmountable first step because it gives you a clear skeleton upon which to flesh out your thoughts. With that step conquered, you’re on your way to crushing your assignment.

how long should the background of an essay be

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What is the Background of a Study and How Should it be Written?

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The background of a study is one of the most important components of a research paper. The quality of the background determines whether the reader will be interested in the rest of the study. Thus, to ensure that the audience is invested in reading the entire research paper, it is important to write an appealing and effective background. So, what constitutes the background of a study, and how must it be written?

What is the background of a study?

The background of a study is the first section of the paper and establishes the context underlying the research. It contains the rationale, the key problem statement, and a brief overview of research questions that are addressed in the rest of the paper. The background forms the crux of the study because it introduces an unaware audience to the research and its importance in a clear and logical manner. At times, the background may even explore whether the study builds on or refutes findings from previous studies. Any relevant information that the readers need to know before delving into the paper should be made available to them in the background.

How is a background different from the introduction?

The introduction of your research paper is presented before the background. Let’s find out what factors differentiate the background from the introduction.

  • The introduction only contains preliminary data about the research topic and does not state the purpose of the study. On the contrary, the background clarifies the importance of the study in detail.
  • The introduction provides an overview of the research topic from a broader perspective, while the background provides a detailed understanding of the topic.
  • The introduction should end with the mention of the research questions, aims, and objectives of the study. In contrast, the background follows no such format and only provides essential context to the study.

How should one write the background of a research paper?

The length and detail presented in the background varies for different research papers, depending on the complexity and novelty of the research topic. At times, a simple background suffices, even if the study is complex. Before writing and adding details in the background, take a note of these additional points:

  • Start with a strong beginning: Begin the background by defining the research topic and then identify the target audience.
  • Cover key components: Explain all theories, concepts, terms, and ideas that may feel unfamiliar to the target audience thoroughly.
  • Take note of important prerequisites: Go through the relevant literature in detail. Take notes while reading and cite the sources.
  • Maintain a balance: Make sure that the background is focused on important details, but also appeals to a broader audience.
  • Include historical data: Current issues largely originate from historical events or findings. If the research borrows information from a historical context, add relevant data in the background.
  • Explain novelty: If the research study or methodology is unique or novel, provide an explanation that helps to understand the research better.
  • Increase engagement: To make the background engaging, build a story around the central theme of the research

Avoid these mistakes while writing the background:

  • Ambiguity: Don’t be ambiguous. While writing, assume that the reader does not understand any intricate detail about your research.
  • Unrelated themes: Steer clear from topics that are not related to the key aspects of your research topic.
  • Poor organization: Do not place information without a structure. Make sure that the background reads in a chronological manner and organize the sub-sections so that it flows well.

Writing the background for a research paper should not be a daunting task. But directions to go about it can always help. At Elsevier Author Services we provide essential insights on how to write a high quality, appealing, and logically structured paper for publication, beginning with a robust background. For further queries, contact our experts now!

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Aiming for the world-renowned Harvard University? As part of the application to this prestigious Ivy League school, you'll be required to submit responses to five short answer questions.  

This is actually a big change! In years past, Harvard offered an optional supplemental essay opportunity that applicants could write to add extra flair to their application. This year, Harvard has opted to require responses to five short answer prompts and completely omitted the optional, supplemental Harvard essay prompt. 

But what should you write about for your Harvard essay short answers? What are the different Harvard essay prompts to choose from, and how should you answer them so you can give yourself your best shot at getting in?

In this guide, we give you advice for each Harvard essay prompt as well as tips on how to decide what to write. But before we look at the prompts, let's go over what Harvard actually requires in terms of essays.

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What Essays Do You Need to Submit to Harvard?

Those applying for admission to Harvard must submit an application through either the Common Application or the Coalition Application . For your Harvard application, you'll need to write a personal essay in response to one of the prompts provided by the Common App or Coalition App (depending on the system you're applying through).

This essay is required for all applicants and should typically be about 500-550 words long (and must be less than 650 words). To learn more about this essay, check out the current prompts for the Common App and Coalition App on their official websites.

In addition to this required essay, Harvard first-year applicants are required to submit 250 word (max) responses to five short answer questions . 

Here are the prompts for the five required 2023-2024 Harvard short answer questions :

Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard?

Briefly describe an intellectual experience that was important to you.

Briefly describe any of your extracurricular activities, employment experience, travel, or family responsibilities that have shaped who you are.

  • How do you hope to use your Harvard education in the future?
  • Top 3 things your roommates might like to know about you.

Now, you might be wondering: is Harvard offering an optional supplemental essay opportunity as part of this year’s application process? No. This year, Harvard is not accepting optional supplemental essays as part of the first-year admissions process . The optional supplemental essay has been offered in previous years, but not for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. 

Now, here’s where things get a little tricky. The five short answer questions listed above are part of what’s called the Harvard first-year application supplement. But they aren’t the same thing as the supplemental essay from years past! And the important thing to remember is this: these short answer questions–and the entire Harvard supplement–are not optional. You’ll have to answer all five questions if you want to be considered as a candidate for admission!

The good news is that each short answer topic is very open ended, and they give you plenty of room to express who you are and how and why you’re the perfect fit for Harvard!

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How to Write the Harvard Short Answers: Every Prompt Analyzed

In this section, we go through the five required Harvard supplement essay prompts and offer you tips on how to write effective, powerful short answers…in 200 words or less!

Prompt 1: Diversity

This first Harvard essay prompt is all about what you can bring to campus that will positively contribute to student diversity. Though we tend to think of race/ethnicity when using the word "diversity," you can actually interpret this word in a number of ways.

As a large and prestigious institution, Harvard strongly values students who have different and unique backgrounds and experiences, so it's important for them to admit students who embody these values as well.

This prompt is essentially a version of the diversity essay, which we talk about in more detail in our guide.

Here are some key types of diversity you can discuss (note that this is not an exhaustive list!):

  • Your ethnicity or race
  • A unique interest, passion, hobby, or skill you have
  • Your family or socioeconomic background
  • Your religion
  • Your cultural group
  • Your sex or gender/gender identity
  • Your opinions or values
  • Your sexual orientation

Tips for Answering This Prompt

  • Choose a personal characteristic that's had a large impact on your identity. Don't talk about your family's religion if it's had little or no impact on how you see and define yourself. Instead, concentrate on the most significant experiences or skills in your life. If you play the theremin every day and have a passion for music because of it, this would be a great skill to write about in your essay.
  • Be clear about how your unique characteristic has affected your life and growth. You don't just want to introduce the experience/skill and leave it at that. How has it molded you into the person you are today? How has it influenced your ambitions and goals? 
  • Be sure to tie this characteristic back to the diversity at Harvard. Basically, how will your experience/skill/trait positively influence the Harvard student body? For example, if you come from a specific cultural group, how do you believe this will positively impact other students?

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Prompt 2: Important Intellectual Experience

With this prompt, Harvard wants you to focus on an intellectual or learning experience that's had a big impact on you in terms of your personal growth, your academic/intellectual interests and passions, the field of study you want to pursue, etc.

This intellectual experience could be anything that's intellectually stimulating, such as an essay or book you read, a poem you analyzed, or a research project you conducted.

Note that this experience does not need to be limited to something you did for school —if you've done anything in your spare time or for an extracurricular activity that you think fits this prompt, feel free to write about that.

For example, you could write about how you found an old copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species at a garage sale, and how reading this prompted you to develop an interest in biology, which you now intend to major in and eventually make a career out of.

This is also an ideal prompt to highlight a particular interest or passion you have that differs from the academic field you want to study in college.

For instance, perhaps you're applying for admission as a computer science major, but you're also a huge fan of poetry and often take part in local poetry readings. Writing about a poem you recently read and analyzed could illuminate to the admissions committees a different, less prominent side of your personality and intellectual interests , ultimately showing that you're open minded and invested in gaining both new skills and experiences.

  • Choose an experience that had a significant impact on you . Don't talk about how reading Romeo and Juliet in eighth grade made you realize how much you enjoyed writing plays if you were already writing plays way before then! Pinpoint an intellectual experience that was meaningful to you, and write about it honestly.
  • Be specific about the intellectual experience you had and clearly relate it back to your strengths and interests . In other words, what kind of impact did this experience have on you? Your academic goals? Your future plans? For example, instead of writing about how a scientific paper on climate change made you think more deeply about the environment, you could talk about how this paper prompted you to form a recycling program at your school, take a class on marine biology, and so forth.

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Prompt 3: Non-Academic Defining Experiences

This prompt is asking you to discuss experiences you've had that involved traveling, living, learning, and/or working in some capacity outside of the formal classroom. Most importantly, you’ll need to explain what kind of effect that experience has had on you.

Here are examples of experiences you could talk about for this essay:

  • Any extracurricular activity you engage in, particularly a spike approach, if you’ve got one (learn more about creating your spike approach in our complete guide !)
  • Living or traveling abroad
  • Moving to a new place or living in multiple places
  • Working a part-time job
  • Working a temporary job or internship somewhere outside your own community
  • Helping with finances, caregiving, or maintaining a family business (like a farm or lawn care business, for example)
  • Choose a truly significant experience to talk about. Although your experience doesn't need to be life-changing, it should have had a noteworthy impact on you and who you've become. If, for example, you traveled to Mexico with your family but didn't really enjoy or learn much from the trip, it's better to avoid writing about this experience.
  • Make sure to talk about how this travel/living/work experience has affected you. For example, say you spent a couple of summers in high school visiting relatives in South Africa. You could write about how these trips helped you develop a stronger sense of independence and self-sufficiency—traits which have made you more assertive, especially when it comes to leading group projects and giving speeches.
  • Don't be afraid to get creative with this essay. For instance, if you lived in a country where you at first didn't understand the local language, you could open your Harvard essay with an anecdote, such as a conversation you overheard or a funny miscommunication.

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Prompt 4: Harvard and Your Future

This Harvard essay prompt is pretty self-explanatory: it wants you to discuss how you intend to use your education at Harvard after you graduate—so in a future job or career, in grad school, in a particular research field, etc.

Basically, how will your college education help you achieve your future goals (whatever those may be)?

If you’re still undecided about the field(a) you want to study at Harvard, don’t panic! It’s okay to think outside the box for this prompt. 

Maybe you don’t know what you want to major in yet, but you do know that you share Harvard’s values and want to bring those values to the world after you graduate. Whether you’ll do that by joining the Peace Corps or heading back to your hometown to volunteer for a few months before starting your career, just be specific about how Harvard is the right school to put you on the path to your future! 

  • Be careful when talking about your future goals. You don't want to come off too idealistic, but you also don't want to sound too broad or you'll come across unfocused and ambivalent. Try to strike a balance in how you discuss your future dreams so that they're both attainable and specific.
  • Clearly connect your goals back to your current self and what you've accomplished up until this point. You want to make it clear that your goals are actually attainable, specifically with a Harvard education. If you say you hope to start your own interior design business after graduation but are planning to major in biology, you're only going to confuse the admissions committee!
  • Emphasize any ways Harvard specifically will help you attain your academic goals. For example, is there a club you hope to join that could connect you with other students? Or is there a particular professor you want to work with? Don't just throw in names of clubs and people but specifically explain how these resources will help you reach your goals. In short, show Harvard that what they can offer you is exactly what you need to succeed.

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Prompt 5: Your Future Goals

How you hope to use your college education

This Harvard essay prompt is pretty self-explanatory: it wants you to discuss how you intend to use your education at Harvard after you graduate —so in a future job or career, in grad school, in a particular research field, etc.

Should You Choose This Prompt?

If you have a pretty clear vision for your future goals during and after college, this is a perfect prompt to choose for your Harvard essay.

If, on the other hand, you're still undecided about the field(s) you want to study or how you intend to use your major, you might want to choose a different prompt that's less focused on your future and more concentrated on how past events and experiences have shaped you as a person.

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Prompt 6: List of Books

A list of books you have read during the past twelve months

Of all Harvard essay prompts, this one is by far the most unique.

Here, you're asked to simply list the books you've read in the past year. This essay is more than just a list, though—it's a brief overview of where your intellectual interests lie. These books may include works of fiction or nonfiction, essays, collections of poetry, etc.

Have you read a lot of diverse and interesting books in the past year? Are you an avid reader who loves dissecting books and essays? Do you enjoy a creative approach to college essays? If you answered yes to these questions, then this prompt is a perfect fit for you.

Even if you haven't read a ton of books this past year, if you were especially intrigued by some or all of what you did read, you could certainly use this prompt for your essay.

  • Instead of just listing the titles of books you've read, you might want to include a short sentence or two commenting on your reaction to the book, your analysis of it, why you enjoyed or didn't enjoy it, etc., after each title. Be sure to vary up your comments so that you're highlighting different aspects of your personality. Also, don't just regurgitate analyses you've read online or that your teacher has said—try to come up with your own thoughts and interpretations.
  • Don't feel the need to stick to only the most "impressive" books you read. The Harvard admissions committee wants to see your personality, not that of a pretentious applicant who claims to have only read Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway. Be honest: if you read Twilight in a day, why not make a short joke about how addictive it was?
  • Go beyond a chronological list of books. It'll be far more interesting if you list the books you read in a more unique way. For example, you could organize titles by theme or in the order of how much you enjoyed them.

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Prompt 7: Honesty

The Harvard College Honor code declares that we "hold honesty as the foundation of our community." As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.

As you can see with this quotation, Harvard strongly values honesty and integrity. Therefore, if you go with this prompt, you're essentially telling Harvard that you, too, embody a powerful sense of morality and honesty.

  • Was there a specific time in your life when you had to make a difficult choice to be honest about something with someone?
  • Could this incident be considered morally ambiguous? In other words, was the "right thing to do" somewhat of a gray area?
  • If you didn't make the "right" choice at the time, how did you come to terms with or learn from this decision? What were the consequences, and what did this experience teach you about your own morals and how you value honesty?
  • Be wary of the topic you choose to write about. Don't discuss a situation in which you did something obviously unethical or, worse, illegal. These types of situations are very black and white and therefore don't pose much of a moral dilemma. Additionally, talking about such an experience might make you seem dishonest and immoral, which you absolutely do not want Harvard to think about you!
  • Try to find a topic that isn't black and white. Choosing "gray" incidents will help emphasize why the choice was so difficult for you and also why it's affected you in this way. For example, say your friend calls you crying right before you have to leave to take the SAT. Do you skip the test to comfort your friend, or do you hang up and leave? This kind of situation does not have an evident "right" answer, making it an ideal one to use for this essay.
  • You could also discuss a time when you did not make the "right" choice—and what you learned from that mistake. As long as you look closely at why you made the "wrong" choice and what this incident taught you about integrity, your essay will be interesting and relevant.

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Prompt 8: Citizens and Citizen-Leaders

The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?

This prompt might sound a little vague, but all it wants to know is how you'll have a positive impact on both your classmates and on other people after graduation. Put simply, what kind of leader/citizen will you be at Harvard? After you graduate from college and enter the real world?

This prompt is similar to Prompt 5 in that it wants to know what kind of person you'll become after you leave college and how you'll positively influence society.

If you're a natural-born leader and have had at least a few significant experiences with leading or facilitating things such as club activities, field trips, volunteer efforts, and so on, then this Harvard essay prompt would be a great fit for you.

  • Focus on a time when you led others and it resulted in a positive outcome. For instance, you could write about your position as team captain on your school's soccer team and how you would gather your teammates before each game to offer words of encouragement and advice on how to improve. You could then describe how your team began to perform better in games due to clearer communication and a stronger sense of sportsmanship. Make sure to answer the critical question: how did you lead and what ultimately made your leadership style successful?
  • Discuss what kind of role your leadership skills will have at both Harvard and after you graduate. The prompt is asking about your classmates, so you must specifically address how your leadership skills will contribute to the lives of your peers. How will your past experiences with leading help you approach group projects, for example? Or clubs you join?
  • Make sure to mention how you'll be a good citizen, too. By "citizen," Harvard essentially means a productive member of both the school and society in general. Basically, how have you contributed to the betterment of society? This is a good place to talk about experiences in which you played a crucial supporting role; for instance, maybe you helped out with a local volunteer initiative to feed the homeless, or maybe you joined a community project to build a new park in your town.

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Prompt 9: Taking Time Off

Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?

Here, you're being asked what you plan to do with your time if you decide to defer your admission to Harvard or take time off during college. For example, will you travel the world? Work a full-time job? Do an internship? Take care of a sick relative?

Obviously, Harvard doesn't want to read that all you're going to do is relax and play video games all day, so make sure to think carefully about what your actual plans are and, more importantly, how these plans will benefit you as a person and as a student.

Only choose this Harvard essay prompt if you're pretty certain you'll be taking time off from college at some point (either before or during) and you have a relatively concrete idea of what you want to do during that time.

  • Be specific and honest about your plans. While many students like to take time off to travel the world, you don't just want to write, "I plan to backpack Europe and learn about cultures." Think critically about your desires: why do you want to do this and how will this experience help you grow as a person? Don't just reiterate what you think Harvard wants to hear—be transparent about why you feel you need this time off from school to accomplish this goal.
  • Be clear about why you must do this at this particular time. In other words, why do you think this (i.e., before or during college) is the right time to do whatever it is you plan to do? Is it something you can (or must) do at this exact time, such as a one-time internship that won't be offered again?

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Prompt 10: Diversity

Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.

This final Harvard essay prompt is all about what you can bring to campus that will positively contribute to student diversity. Though we tend to think of race/ethnicity when using the word "diversity," you can actually interpret this word in a number of ways.

This prompt is essentially a version of the diversity essay , which we talk about in more detail in our guide.

The main question to ask yourself before choosing this prompt is this: do you have a unique background or interest you can write about?

If any of these topics stand out to you and you can easily come up with a specific characteristic or experience to discuss for your essay, then this is a solid prompt to consider answering.

  • Be clear about how your unique characteristic has affected your life and growth. You don't just want to introduce the experience/skill and leave it at that. How has it molded you into the person you are today? How has it influenced your ambitions and goals?

Want to build the best possible college application?   We can help.   PrepScholar Admissions combines world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've guided thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit and are driven to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in:

A Real Harvard Essay Example

Our resident full SAT / ACT scorer and co-founder of PrepScholar, Allen Cheng , applied to, got into, and attended Harvard—and he's posted his own Harvard supplement essay for you to look at. You can read all about Allen's essay in his analysis of his successful Harvard application .

Allen describes his essay as "probably neutral to [his Harvard] application, not a strong net positive or net negative," so it's important to note that this Harvard essay example is not representative of exactly what you should do in your own Harvard supplement essay. Rather, we're showing it to you to give you a taste of how you could approach the Harvard essay and to demonstrate the kinds of simple mistakes you should avoid.

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Writing a Memorable Harvard Essay: 3 Tips

To wrap up, here are three tips to keep in mind as you write your Harvard supplement essay.

#1: Use an Authentic Voice

Having a clear, unique, and authentic voice is the key to making yourself stand apart from other applicants in your Harvard application—and to ensuring you're leaving a long-lasting impression on the admissions committee.

Therefore, write your essay in the way that comes most naturally to you, and talk about the things that actually matter to you. For example, if you love puns, throwing one or two puns into your essay will emphasize your goofier, non-academic side.

Using your voice here is important because it humanizes your application. The essay is the only chance you get to show the admissions committee who you are and what you actually sound like, so don't pretend to be someone you're not!

The only thing to look out for is using too much slang or sounding too casual. In the end, this is still a college essay, so you don't want to come off sounding rude, disrespectful, or immature.

In addition, don't exaggerate any experiences or emotions. The Harvard admissions committee is pretty good at their job—they read thousands of applications each year!—so they'll definitely be able to tell if you're making a bigger deal out of something than you should be. Skip the hyperbole and stick to what you know.

Ultimately, your goal should be to strike a balance so that you're being true to yourself while also showcasing your intelligence and talents.

#2: Get Creative

Harvard is one of the most difficult schools to get into (it only has about a 4% acceptance rate! ), so you'll need to make sure your essay is really, really attention-grabbing. In short, get creative with it!

As you write your personal essay, recall the classic saying: show, don't tell. This means that you should rely more on description and imagery than on explanation.

For example, instead of writing, "I became more confident after participating in the debate club," you might write, "The next time I went onstage for a debate, my shoulders didn't shake as much; my lips didn't quiver; and my heart only beat 100 times instead of 120 times per minute."

Remember that your essay is a story about yourself, so make sure it's interesting to read and will ultimately be memorable to your readers.

#3: Edit and Proofread a Lot

My final tip is to polish your essay by editing and proofreading it a lot. This means you should look it over not once, not twice, but several times.

Here's the trick to editing it: once you've got a rough draft of your essay finished, put it away for a few days or a week or two. Don't look at it all during this time —you want to give yourself some distance so that you can look at your essay later with a fresh perspective.

After you've waited, read over your essay again, noting any mistakes in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation. Take care to also note any awkward wording, unclear areas, or irrelevant ideas. Ask yourself: is there anything you should add? Delete? Expand?

Once you've done this step several times and have a (nearly) final draft ready to turn in, give your essay to someone you can trust, such as a teacher, parent, or mentor. Have them look it over and offer feedback on tone, voice, theme, style, etc. In addition, make sure that they check for any glaring grammatical or technical errors.

Once all of this is done, you'll have a well-written, polished Harvard essay ready to go— one that'll hopefully get you accepted!

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What's Next?

If you've got questions about other parts of the Harvard application, check out our top guide to learn what you'll need to submit to get into the prestigious Ivy League school .

How tough is it to get into Harvard? To other selective universities ? For answers, read our expert guide on how to get into Harvard and the Ivy League , written by an actual Harvard alum!

What's the average SAT score of admitted Harvard applicants? The average ACT score? The average GPA? Learn all this and more by visiting our Harvard admissions requirements page .

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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Background Information in an Essay: How to Write and Example

Background Information in an Essay

Background Information in an Essay

When assigned an essay, it is advisable to assume that your target audience does not know anything about your topic hence the reason why you should provide background information.

This enhances your audience’s understanding of the essay topic and subject matter. They will know what to expect in the body paragraphs of the essay.

Even though the essay has been assigned to you by your instructor and they already know the expectations, it is important to provide some background information in the introduction. 

how long should the background of an essay be

What is the Background of an Essay?

A background in an essay is the part or point within the essay where you provide contextual knowledge or introductory information to the readers to help them understand the essay’s subject matter. 

the subject matter

The background sets the stage for the main arguments or discussion that will be presented in the essay. 

What is Background Information in an Essay?

“Background information” in an essay is the content that is provided within an essay’s background to provide the readers with introductory information or contextual knowledge. 

The background information helps orient your readers and equip them with the relevant foundational knowledge and context to understand the main discussions and arguments that follow within the body paragraphs. 

When you provide the background information within your essay, you are establishing to your readers the relevance of your topic. This gives them the relevant information to engage with the content of your essay.   

Also Read : Can a Literature Review have Pictures, Diagrams or Charts?

How to Write Background Information in an Essay

1. identify the key elements.

When writing background information in an essay, it is important to determine the key aspects of your topic that need to be addressed within the section.

Normally, the background information of an essay includes elements like a brief introduction of your topic, key definitions and concepts, historical context, relevant data or facts, and an overview of the existing research relating to your topic. 

2. Conduct Research and Gather Relevant Information

Before writing the background information of your essay, ensure that you have conducted thorough research so that you can gather the relevant information and sources that are related to your topic. 

It would be difficult to briefly introduce the topic and provide a brief historical context without understanding your topic through research. If possible start discussion posts on relevant platforms to gather further insights.

You should only utilize reputable sources such as scholarly articles and journals, books, and credible websites so that the information you provide in the background is accurate and reliable. 

3. Organize the Information

Once you have researched and gathered the relevant information concerning your topic, organize it in such a way that it is logical and coherent. 

Put into consideration the flow of the information in addition to how it will effectively support the main discussion or argument in your essay. 

4. Begin with a Broad Introduction

When writing the background information section of the essay, start with a broad introduction to your topic. 

Give a brief overview of the topic’s subject matter and its significance. This will set the context of the essay and grab your readers’ attention. 

5. Give Historical Context if Applicable

If your essay’s topic has some historical aspects, provide relevant historical background information. 

Here, you should provide key historical developments, events, or circumstances that will help your readers understand the current issue or situation presented in your topic. 

6. Define Key Concepts and Terms

defining terms

Introduce and define any specialized jargon, terms, or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers. 

This ensures that the readers have a clear understanding of the terminologies and concepts used throughout the essay. 

7. Present Relevant Data or Facts

Include relevant facts, data, or statistics that will help in establishing the magnitude or scope of your topic. This can give a qualitative or quantitative perspective on the issues discussed. 

8. Summarize Existing Research if Applicable

When your essay is part of a greater academic discourse, briefly summarize the key arguments or findings from relevant scholarly sources . 

This shows that you acknowledge the existing body of knowledge concerning your topic and highlights your essay’s contribution to the academic discourse. 

In summary, when you are writing the background information in an essay, it is imperative to ensure that you present it clearly and concisely in addition to being relevant to the essay’s topic. 

Avoid spending a lot of time on it and providing too much information and details.  

Also Read : Time to Write a Thesis or Dissertation: Tips to Finish Fast

How to Write Background Section in Research Writing

The background section in research writing differs from that of an essay because it gives a more in-depth and comprehensive review of the existing research and literature related to your topic. 

When writing the background section in research, you should:

Conduct a Literature Review

writing literature review

You should conduct a thorough literature review before writing the background section.

This will help you identify and father relevant scholarly sources like books, journal articles, and conference papers. 

Organize the Literature

Analyze and organize the gathered literature per the relevant theories, themes, or key research findings. 

Note the major concepts and gaps within the existing research that your study wishes to address. 

Provide a Historical Context

Provide a brief historical context of your topic that traces the evolution of the research question or development of the field. 

This helps your readers understand how your research fits within the broader scholarly discourse, in addition to how the ideas have progressed. 

Present Key Concepts and Theories

Briefly introduce and explain the key concepts, models, and theories that are relevant to the research. 

This shows that you understand the theoretical framework that underpins your research. It also provides your research question’s foundation. 

Highlight Research Questions and Gaps

Identify the limitations or gaps within the existing literature that your study aims to fill. 

State the objectives or research questions of your study and explain how they will address the identified gaps. 

Justify your Research’s Significance

Explain the relevance and significance of your research within the larger practical or academic context. 

Demonstrate how your study contributes to existing knowledge, addresses a practical problem, or advances the field. 

Also Read : Should a Literature Review be Critical? Tips How to do it

Background Information Example

An example of background information from an essay with the topic “The Benefits of Exercise on Mental Health” is:

“Exercise has long been recognized as a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle. Beyond its physical benefits, several studies have shown that exercise also has a positive impact on mental health. 

Regular physical activity has been linked to improved mood, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, and enhanced overall well-being. Research has shown that exercise can mitigate the risk of developing mental health disorders. It has been associated with a lower incidence of conditions such as depression and anxiety, in addition to playing a crucial role in the management and treatment of these conditions as well.

Understanding the benefits of exercise on mental health is essential for individuals seeking to improve their overall well-being. By incorporating regular physical activity into their routines, individuals can experience improved mood, reduced stress levels, and enhanced mental resilience.

This essay explores the existing literature on the relationship between exercise and mental health, highlighting the specific mechanisms through which exercise positively affects mental well-being. The aim is to further emphasize the importance of exercise as a tool for promoting mental health and well-being”.

Also Read : How to Tell If a Research Paper Is Good: Tips from A to Z

Do’s & Don’ts when Writing Background Information

As earlier discussed in this article, the Do’s when writing background information includes providing the necessary context, including relevant facts and data, citing credible sources, focusing on relevance to the topic, and being concise. 

Do not include irrelevant information or overgeneralize, do not plagiarize, and do not overwhelm your readers with too much information or details since they will be provided in the body. 

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Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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How Long Should an Essay Be? Essay Length Guide & Tips

How long is an essay

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Have you ever wondered how long is an essay? The simplest answer is that it should be as long as specified in the requirements. However, when it comes to practice, everything isn't so easy. The length of an essay can vary greatly depending on its purpose, level of education, and specific assignment instructions.

How many pages or words do you have to write to achieve the perfect essay length? How to keep your writing clear, structured, and logical staying within the specified word limit? What is the length of different types of essays and how to achieve a perfect match of the paper content and length? Find the answer to these essential questions and discover real-life examples in this ultimate guide. If you need to write your essay and there are no instructions, StudyCrumb essay writers will guide you.

Importance of Essay Length

An essay length and word count are important because they help you achieve your goals. If you're writing a paper to impress an admissions committee, it should be long enough to give the committee the information they need. At the same time, it shouldn't be too long. Otherwise, it may seem boring or uninteresting. 

In addition to helping you achieve your goals, the length of an essay and word count can also help make sure your paper is easy to read and flows well. You also have to stay compliant with the specific writing requirements to get full credit for the paper. Staying within the word limit is one of them. You can use our free tool to count how many words your paper is to make sure you stay within limits.

What Impacts Essay Length?

So, how long your essay should be? The trick is that it depends. In general, academic papers are divided into three categories:

  • School essay
  • College essays
  • University papers.

Depending on the educational level, the length requirements will be different. In addition, there are 4 essential factors that determine the volume of an academic essay.

  • Essay type Different types of essays have different requirements regarding length and content, which are usually listed in your professor's syllabus or instructions.
  • Educational level For example, college students are generally expected to write longer papers compared to middle school essay.
  • Essay topic If your professor gives you a topic that requires research (like "How has technology impacted education?"), chances are your paper will go beyond the limits of a 1000 word essay . But if they want you to share your impressions on a movie, you can fit it into 275 words well.
  • Specific requirements your professor may have For instance, if they want a piece that's three pages, double-spaced, and includes footnotes, then those are the parameters you'll need to work within.

Essay Length Recommendations

It's important to know the length of your essay before you start writing so that you can decide on the word count for each paragraph and stay compliant with other recommendations of your professor. So, after we have discovered the main factors influencing the essay’s length, let’s find out how long should an essay be depending on the type of paper and educational level.

Average Essay Word Count and Page Count Directions

Feel free to use our converter to find out how many words fit on a page.

High School Essay

500-800 words are usually enough for a typical 5 paragraph essay in high school. This is the space you can use to fully express yourself and your ideas at a high-school level. The most important thing is that you have a clear thesis statement and a good introduction that draws the reader in. Make sure your conclusion is also solid and makes a strong point while tying everything together. If you're asked to submit a high school essay that is shorter than 500 words, it's likely that the teacher wants you to focus on a very specific part of the prompt.

>> Read more: How to Write an Essay?

College Admission Essay

The length of a college admission essay is often shorter than those written for high school. With this type of task, you have to stay within 650 words on average but it depends on the type of college you’re applying to, so make sure you check with the school directly before writing your essay (they will have recommendations on length). College admission papers can be either analytical or narrative—the length doesn’t change based on what type of essay it is.

Undergraduate College Essay

An undergraduate essay in college should be between 500-650 words, but it still depends on the paper type and topic to cover. The length of an undergraduate college essay varies depending on the type of paper being written as well as what type of school you're attending (public vs private). It also depends on whether you're writing an essay of any specific type – an argumentative piece or a narrative piece. In terms of writing style, this type of essay is more formal than what would typically be expected from a high school essay.

Graduate School Admission Essay

Graduate school admission papers should be between 500-1000 words, depending on what type of graduate program you're applying for. This essay is just the paper that matters most to the admission committee, so it's important to make sure that it's clear, concise, and well-written. The admissions committee will be looking for a strong introduction, a compelling thesis statement, and an effective conclusion. The introduction and conclusion paragraphs can be a little shorter than the body ones. To get an idea of graduate school admission essays length and logic, take a look at successful sample papers. 

>> Learn more: How to Write an Essay Fast?

Graduate School Essay

The general rule of thumb for all graduate school essays is that you should keep it under 1000 words. This is because the admissions committees are looking for a comprehensive review of your background and experiences that includes information about your academic, professional, and personal life. 500-1000 words for a graduate school essay is the academic average. Use up to four pages to fully explain your reasoning and express your ideas. Also, keep in mind that the length and content requirements are usually set by the school itself.

How Long Is Every Part of an Essay

As you know, every paper consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion. But how many words should you write for each section? Keep in mind a simple yet general rule of 80/20. It means that your essay’s body should contain 80% of all your content. This is also the room for explaining your “why” and “how”, citing relevant studies, and providing argumentation. 

Now, let’s find out how to write each of the parts while keeping an average essay length and the required word count in mind. 

To ease your essay writing process, we advise preparing a draft. If you have never done it before, take a rough draft example .

Average Length of Essay Parts

How Long Should an Introduction Be for an Essay?

The introduction is the first paragraph of an essay. It serves as the opening for your essay. The introduction should provide a brief summary of the topic, point out the significance of your topic, and give a preview of what you will discuss in your paper. If you are writing a normal essay with up to 550 required words count, your introduction should take approximately 100 words. Most general essays will have one or two paragraphs in their introduction section.

>> Read more: How to Start an Essay

How Long Should an Essay Body Paragraph Be?

An average length of a body paragraph is up to 150 words. It means that each you should take up four to six text lines (Times New Roman 12). Build up your body paragraphs in the next way to achieve the right lengths, keep your flow logical, and follow a word limit within an essay. Around 5-7 sentences are usually enough for a short essay paragraph, so:

  • Write a topic sentence to every paragraph.
  • Present a research-supported statement.
  • Offer your argumentation.
  • End with a transition phrase.

>> Learn more: How to Write a Good Body Paragraph

Deciding on the Number of Body Paragraphs in an Essay

So, how many paragraphs should you write to create a full-length essay that’s also compliant with your professor’s requirements? The answer is simple: You should write as many body paragraphs as it takes to get your point across. That means that if you have a lot of information to share, then you might want to add more paragraphs. If you don’t have much information, then you can keep the number low. Below is the average number of paragraphs (including into and outro) depending on the word count:

  • 275 words - 3 paragraphs
  • 550-words - 4-5 paragraphs
  • 1100 words - 6-8 paragraphs.

How Long Is an Essay Conclusion Supposed to Be?

As you know, a conclusion in an essay is its final part and it should never be longer than your paper’s body. Generally, it is necessary to write one paragraph for simpler and typical essays and two paragraphs for longer papers.

But the important thing is not to overdo it. If your conclusion is too long, the professor is likely to lower your grade — just because you failed to follow the academic writing standards (even if there are no complaints about your outro content). That’s why on average, a conclusion of an essay should be up to 100 words long.

Tips to Achieve the Required Length

So, at this point,  you know how long general essays should be and how many words in an essay are depending on its type. Now, let’s deal with the most challenging task and find out what you can do to make your essay longer or shorter, improving its quality along the way.

Making Your Essay Longer

Use the next 5 tips to transform a short essay into a longer one.

  • Add examples. You can use your own experiences. Use examples from other people or books that relate to the topic.
  • Add facts, statistics, and citations. Adding these kinds of details will help prove how well-informed you are on this topic and help back up some of your claims.
  • Use transitions but don't overdo them. They're useful for helping readers follow along with your paper. But too many transitions may sound just like an attempt to extend the paper’s volume.
  • Double-check your argumentation. Providing a clear argumentation is difficult. That's why you have to double-check your reasoning and make sure you hadn't combined two different arguments in a single paragraph. To fix such a mistake, add one more section to your paper’s body for each of the arguments you have. Such a simple tip will make your writing clearer too.
  • Read sample papers on the topic to grab more ideas. Chances are you've missed some important points. The papers of other students will help you fill the gaps and reasonably extend the word count.

Making Your Essay Shorter

Some students tend to write significantly more than an average essay word count. It may sound paradoxical but writing longer essays is easier than short ones. In the latter case, you should be as concise as possible. Here is how to make your essay shorter without losing the main ideas and disrupting the flow.

  • Remove irrelevant examples. You don't need to give several detailed examples for every point you make. Look at your thesis and ask yourself if every example supports that thesis. If not, cut it.
  • Make your paragraphs 4-sentences long. In this way, you will achieve a shorter essay volume and improve clarity at once.
  • Remove repetition. If something has already been said in the paragraph before, but it doesn't fit in the current context, get rid of it.
  • Make your introduction and conclusion shorter. An introduction is supposed to be interesting enough that readers want to keep reading. A conclusion is supposed to summarize everything you said. Don't reinvent the wheel in these sections.
  • Use a readability check tool. Transforming long and difficult-to-read sentences into shorter and clearer ones. It is one more way to make a long essay fit into the provided requirements.

Mistakes to Avoid When Adjusting the Length of an Essay

When adjusting the length of a paper, there are a few mistakes to avoid.

  • Adding unnecessary details. It's easy to think that you need to add more information when trying to make your piece longer. In reality, this is often not the case. Try balancing your explanations and keep them to the point in every sentence.
  • Cutting the necessary details. If you have too much information and need to cut it down, do so carefully. For example, if you have several suitable citations to include, use the most relevant or the most recent one instead of adding them all.
  • Writing “one more paragraph” for the sake of volume. This is a mistake because you can end up with a poorly-argued and too-watery piece.
  • Missing essential research. Missing essential research can be a big mistake because then you won't have enough information to write actually on the topic. In this case, your paper is likely to be too short.
  • Adding irrelevant citations. Irrelevant citations make your paper look like it was written by someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. They also make your essay look less credible than it truly is.

How Long Should an Essay Be Depending on Format?

So, how long are essays and how many pages should you write, depending on the formatting style you are required to follow? The trick is that different formatting styles may require you to use different fonts, sizes, and spacing. For example, if you write in MLA, you have to use Times New Roman 12, while APA usually requires you to use Arial 11. Both styles imply using double spacing. Now, let's discover how spacing and font size affect the paper’s length.

  • 275 words (Times New Roman 12, double-space) – 1 page
  • 550 words (Times New Roman 12, double-space) – 2 pages
  • 1100 words (Times New Roman 12, double-space) – 4 pages
  • 275 words (Arial 11,  double-space) – 1 page
  • 550 words (Arial 11, double-space) – 2 pages
  • 1100 words (Arial 11, double-space) – 4 pages

If your professor specifically required to use single spacing, it will take two times less space than when using double spacing.

Font and Size

Using the right font and size is important for getting the full grade for your paper and staying compliant with the professor's requirements. Agree, it will be disappointing to get a lower grade just because you've used another font that your professor asked you to use. Fortunately, the requirements for font and size aren't too diverse or complicated. So, here is a list of commonly used fonts and sizes for MLA, APA, and Chicago formatting styles.

APA style format :

  • Font: Times New Roman or Arial

MLA format essay :

  • Font: Times New Roman

Chicago format :

What to Do if There Are No Essay Length Requirements?

If you're writing an essay and there are no essay length requirements, don't panic! There are still some guidelines you can follow to make sure your essay has the right length.

  • Be guided by general academic writing rules. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to keep your papers between 500 and 1,000 words. If you're writing an essay for school or university, it should also be double-spaced, with one-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Consider paper type. Get back to the chart with essay types and recommended length we've provided above. Use this volume as a starting point.
  • Suggest the right volume depending on the topic. Some topics require several pages to be fully researched and explained. Others require stating your personal opinion that may fit well in two-three paragraphs.
  • Ask your professor. As for the simplest but still right solution, ask your professor for help determining what length would be best for your essay. If they give you some guidelines but don't specify exactly how long an essay paragraph or sentence should be, then follow those guidelines instead of worrying about word counts or page numbers.
  • Take a look at sample papers on similar topics. See how those students organized their thoughts into paragraphs and sections. You might even consider using their format as a starting point for your own piece.

Using Length to Determine an Essay Scope

It may seem that the length of your paper is just a formal requirement. In practice, it is a framework that helps you organize your essay sections. If you're writing a short essay, it's likely that you have a narrow focus and are only looking at part of the issue in question.

For example, if you are required to write a 550-words paper, you can immediately understand that you have to write an intro and conclusion (100 words each). Then, share the remained 450 words between three-four body paragraphs (100-150 words each). 

Next, everything becomes even easier. Outline the core ideas for each of the paragraphs. Support them with studies and citations and add your vision.

Bottom Line on How Long Is an Essay

So, now we have covered everything that matters for determining the right essay length and writing a full-credit paper following the requirements. In most cases, your professor will kindly provide you with a precise number of words you have to write. Otherwise, be guided by general academic writing rules for an essay type you are about to create. And keep the rule of thumb in mind. 

Regardless of your paper volume, it should be well-researched, clear, logical, structured, and reasoned.

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If you don't feel like sticking to instructions, we will always help you. Our professional college essay writers will write excellent work of any length. Just fill out an order on our website and get your essay done quickly.

FAQ About Essay Length

1. how long is an essay in middle school.

A middle-school essay is usually up to 550 words. An essay in middle school is typically short because the students are learning how to write, and they're not yet comfortable with long-form writing. These papers are typically short because they're meant to answer one question or dwell on a single subject being studied.

2. How long is an essay in sentences?

The length of an essay in sentences depends on the type of essay and the amount of information you have to cover. A 550-word typical essay usually consists of 15 sentences, given that the length of each sentence is approximately the same. However, if you are used to writing longer or shorter sentences, their total number may vary. So, the best tactic is to write sentences without clauses to keep them clear and understandable.

3. How long should a short essay be?

A short essay should be no longer than 550 words. The point of a short essay is to convey an idea in a precise and focused way, so it's important that you don't waste any words on unnecessary details. The best way to match the necessary word count is to write an outline before writing a final draft. In this way, you will know how much space each section will take up, at least approximately.

4. How many pages are in an essay?

The answer to this question depends on the topic, scope, and depth of your essay. In general, an essay of 2-3 pages is considered short; 4-6 pages is average; 7-10 pages is long. The amount of pages also depends on the spacing you are required to use. Using double-space between paragraph extends the page count twice.

5. How many words are in an essay?

There's no one answer to the question of how many words are in an essay. It depends on the type of essay you're writing and the formatting style you use, as well as your professor’s requirements. A standard word count for college essays is between 550-1100 words. However, some professors may request that you write more or less than this amount.

6. Can I go over the expected essay length?

The more compliant you are with the professor’s requirements, the more chances of getting full credit you have. So, don’t go over the expected length. Still, you can write up to 50-100 words more if the point you would like to add really matters for your reasoning.

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Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.

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  • Knowledge Base

The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay | Steps & Examples

An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.

There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentative — they aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.

The essay writing process consists of three main stages:

  • Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
  • Writing : Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
  • Revision:  Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

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Table of contents

Essay writing process, preparation for writing an essay, writing the introduction, writing the main body, writing the conclusion, essay checklist, lecture slides, frequently asked questions about writing an essay.

The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay .

For example, if you’ve been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you’ll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay , on the other hand, you’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you start writing.

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how long should the background of an essay be

Before you start writing, you should make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. There are a few key steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
  • Define a topic: If you’re allowed to choose your own topic , try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
  • Do your research: Read  primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You’ll use these as evidence for your points.
  • Come up with a thesis:  The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.
  • Create an outline: Map out the rough structure of your essay in an outline . This makes it easier to start writing and keeps you on track as you go.

Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you’ll use, you’re ready to start writing.

The introduction sets the tone for your essay. It should grab the reader’s interest and inform them of what to expect. The introduction generally comprises 10–20% of the text.

1. Hook your reader

The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the hook. It might be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement emphasizing the relevance of the topic.

Let’s say we’re writing an essay about the development of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a strong statement about the topic:

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

2. Provide background on your topic

Next, it’s important to give context that will help your reader understand your argument. This might involve providing background information, giving an overview of important academic work or debates on the topic, and explaining difficult terms. Don’t provide too much detail in the introduction—you can elaborate in the body of your essay.

3. Present the thesis statement

Next, you should formulate your thesis statement— the central argument you’re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long. The thesis statement for our essay on Braille could look like this:

As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.

4. Map the structure

In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.

The invention of Braille marked a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Write your essay introduction

The body of your essay is where you make arguments supporting your thesis, provide evidence, and develop your ideas. Its purpose is to present, interpret, and analyze the information and sources you have gathered to support your argument.

Length of the body text

The length of the body depends on the type of essay. On average, the body comprises 60–80% of your essay. For a high school essay, this could be just three paragraphs, but for a graduate school essay of 6,000 words, the body could take up 8–10 pages.

Paragraph structure

To give your essay a clear structure , it is important to organize it into paragraphs . Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.

That idea is introduced in a  topic sentence . The topic sentence should generally lead on from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be made in this paragraph. Transition words can be used to create clear connections between sentences.

After the topic sentence, present evidence such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources. Be sure to interpret and explain the evidence, and show how it helps develop your overall argument.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

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The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10–15% of the text . A strong essay conclusion :

  • Returns to your thesis
  • Ties together your main points
  • Shows why your argument matters

A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final impression.

What not to include in a conclusion

To make your essay’s conclusion as strong as possible, there are a few things you should avoid. The most common mistakes are:

  • Including new arguments or evidence
  • Undermining your arguments (e.g. “This is just one approach of many”)
  • Using concluding phrases like “To sum up…” or “In conclusion…”

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

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Checklist: Essay

My essay follows the requirements of the assignment (topic and length ).

My introduction sparks the reader’s interest and provides any necessary background information on the topic.

My introduction contains a thesis statement that states the focus and position of the essay.

I use paragraphs to structure the essay.

I use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.

Each paragraph has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement.

I make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas.

My conclusion doesn’t just repeat my points, but draws connections between arguments.

I don’t introduce new arguments or evidence in the conclusion.

I have given an in-text citation for every quote or piece of information I got from another source.

I have included a reference page at the end of my essay, listing full details of all my sources.

My citations and references are correctly formatted according to the required citation style .

My essay has an interesting and informative title.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (e.g. font, page numbers, line spacing).

Your essay meets all the most important requirements. Our editors can give it a final check to help you submit with confidence.

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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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  • Solar Eclipse 2024

What the World Has Learned From Past Eclipses

C louds scudded over the small volcanic island of Principe, off the western coast of Africa, on the afternoon of May 29, 1919. Arthur Eddington, director of the Cambridge Observatory in the U.K., waited for the Sun to emerge. The remains of a morning thunderstorm could ruin everything.

The island was about to experience the rare and overwhelming sight of a total solar eclipse. For six minutes, the longest eclipse since 1416, the Moon would completely block the face of the Sun, pulling a curtain of darkness over a thin stripe of Earth. Eddington traveled into the eclipse path to try and prove one of the most consequential ideas of his age: Albert Einstein’s new theory of general relativity.

Eddington, a physicist, was one of the few people at the time who understood the theory, which Einstein proposed in 1915. But many other scientists were stymied by the bizarre idea that gravity is not a mutual attraction, but a warping of spacetime. Light itself would be subject to this warping, too. So an eclipse would be the best way to prove whether the theory was true, because with the Sun’s light blocked by the Moon, astronomers would be able to see whether the Sun’s gravity bent the light of distant stars behind it.

Two teams of astronomers boarded ships steaming from Liverpool, England, in March 1919 to watch the eclipse and take the measure of the stars. Eddington and his team went to Principe, and another team led by Frank Dyson of the Greenwich Observatory went to Sobral, Brazil.

Totality, the complete obscuration of the Sun, would be at 2:13 local time in Principe. Moments before the Moon slid in front of the Sun, the clouds finally began breaking up. For a moment, it was totally clear. Eddington and his group hastily captured images of a star cluster found near the Sun that day, called the Hyades, found in the constellation of Taurus. The astronomers were using the best astronomical technology of the time, photographic plates, which are large exposures taken on glass instead of film. Stars appeared on seven of the plates, and solar “prominences,” filaments of gas streaming from the Sun, appeared on others.

Eddington wanted to stay in Principe to measure the Hyades when there was no eclipse, but a ship workers’ strike made him leave early. Later, Eddington and Dyson both compared the glass plates taken during the eclipse to other glass plates captured of the Hyades in a different part of the sky, when there was no eclipse. On the images from Eddington’s and Dyson’s expeditions, the stars were not aligned. The 40-year-old Einstein was right.

“Lights All Askew In the Heavens,” the New York Times proclaimed when the scientific papers were published. The eclipse was the key to the discovery—as so many solar eclipses before and since have illuminated new findings about our universe.

Telescope used to observe a total solar eclipse, Sobral, Brazil, 1919.

To understand why Eddington and Dyson traveled such distances to watch the eclipse, we need to talk about gravity.

Since at least the days of Isaac Newton, who wrote in 1687, scientists thought gravity was a simple force of mutual attraction. Newton proposed that every object in the universe attracts every other object in the universe, and that the strength of this attraction is related to the size of the objects and the distances among them. This is mostly true, actually, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.

On much larger scales, like among black holes or galaxy clusters, Newtonian gravity falls short. It also can’t accurately account for the movement of large objects that are close together, such as how the orbit of Mercury is affected by its proximity the Sun.

Albert Einstein’s most consequential breakthrough solved these problems. General relativity holds that gravity is not really an invisible force of mutual attraction, but a distortion. Rather than some kind of mutual tug-of-war, large objects like the Sun and other stars respond relative to each other because the space they are in has been altered. Their mass is so great that they bend the fabric of space and time around themselves.

Read More: 10 Surprising Facts About the 2024 Solar Eclipse

This was a weird concept, and many scientists thought Einstein’s ideas and equations were ridiculous. But others thought it sounded reasonable. Einstein and others knew that if the theory was correct, and the fabric of reality is bending around large objects, then light itself would have to follow that bend. The light of a star in the great distance, for instance, would seem to curve around a large object in front of it, nearer to us—like our Sun. But normally, it’s impossible to study stars behind the Sun to measure this effect. Enter an eclipse.

Einstein’s theory gives an equation for how much the Sun’s gravity would displace the images of background stars. Newton’s theory predicts only half that amount of displacement.

Eddington and Dyson measured the Hyades cluster because it contains many stars; the more stars to distort, the better the comparison. Both teams of scientists encountered strange political and natural obstacles in making the discovery, which are chronicled beautifully in the book No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity , by the physicist Daniel Kennefick. But the confirmation of Einstein’s ideas was worth it. Eddington said as much in a letter to his mother: “The one good plate that I measured gave a result agreeing with Einstein,” he wrote , “and I think I have got a little confirmation from a second plate.”

The Eddington-Dyson experiments were hardly the first time scientists used eclipses to make profound new discoveries. The idea dates to the beginnings of human civilization.

Careful records of lunar and solar eclipses are one of the greatest legacies of ancient Babylon. Astronomers—or astrologers, really, but the goal was the same—were able to predict both lunar and solar eclipses with impressive accuracy. They worked out what we now call the Saros Cycle, a repeating period of 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours in which eclipses appear to repeat. One Saros cycle is equal to 223 synodic months, which is the time it takes the Moon to return to the same phase as seen from Earth. They also figured out, though may not have understood it completely, the geometry that enables eclipses to happen.

The path we trace around the Sun is called the ecliptic. Our planet’s axis is tilted with respect to the ecliptic plane, which is why we have seasons, and why the other celestial bodies seem to cross the same general path in our sky.

As the Moon goes around Earth, it, too, crosses the plane of the ecliptic twice in a year. The ascending node is where the Moon moves into the northern ecliptic. The descending node is where the Moon enters the southern ecliptic. When the Moon crosses a node, a total solar eclipse can happen. Ancient astronomers were aware of these points in the sky, and by the apex of Babylonian civilization, they were very good at predicting when eclipses would occur.

Two and a half millennia later, in 2016, astronomers used these same ancient records to measure the change in the rate at which Earth’s rotation is slowing—which is to say, the amount by which are days are lengthening, over thousands of years.

By the middle of the 19 th century, scientific discoveries came at a frenetic pace, and eclipses powered many of them. In October 1868, two astronomers, Pierre Jules César Janssen and Joseph Norman Lockyer, separately measured the colors of sunlight during a total eclipse. Each found evidence of an unknown element, indicating a new discovery: Helium, named for the Greek god of the Sun. In another eclipse in 1869, astronomers found convincing evidence of another new element, which they nicknamed coronium—before learning a few decades later that it was not a new element, but highly ionized iron, indicating that the Sun’s atmosphere is exceptionally, bizarrely hot. This oddity led to the prediction, in the 1950s, of a continual outflow that we now call the solar wind.

And during solar eclipses between 1878 and 1908, astronomers searched in vain for a proposed extra planet within the orbit of Mercury. Provisionally named Vulcan, this planet was thought to exist because Newtonian gravity could not fully describe Mercury’s strange orbit. The matter of the innermost planet’s path was settled, finally, in 1915, when Einstein used general relativity equations to explain it.

Many eclipse expeditions were intended to learn something new, or to prove an idea right—or wrong. But many of these discoveries have major practical effects on us. Understanding the Sun, and why its atmosphere gets so hot, can help us predict solar outbursts that could disrupt the power grid and communications satellites. Understanding gravity, at all scales, allows us to know and to navigate the cosmos.

GPS satellites, for instance, provide accurate measurements down to inches on Earth. Relativity equations account for the effects of the Earth’s gravity and the distances between the satellites and their receivers on the ground. Special relativity holds that the clocks on satellites, which experience weaker gravity, seem to run slower than clocks under the stronger force of gravity on Earth. From the point of view of the satellite, Earth clocks seem to run faster. We can use different satellites in different positions, and different ground stations, to accurately triangulate our positions on Earth down to inches. Without those calculations, GPS satellites would be far less precise.

This year, scientists fanned out across North America and in the skies above it will continue the legacy of eclipse science. Scientists from NASA and several universities and other research institutions will study Earth’s atmosphere; the Sun’s atmosphere; the Sun’s magnetic fields; and the Sun’s atmospheric outbursts, called coronal mass ejections.

When you look up at the Sun and Moon on the eclipse , the Moon’s day — or just observe its shadow darkening the ground beneath the clouds, which seems more likely — think about all the discoveries still yet waiting to happen, just behind the shadow of the Moon.

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IMAGES

  1. College Essay Format with Style Guide and Tips

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  2. ACT Writing Prep: How to Write an Argumentative Essay

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  3. How To Write an Essay

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  4. Writing the background of the study in research

    how long should the background of an essay be

  5. How Long Is an Essay?: Word Count Tips & Essay Length Tricks [+Examples]

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  6. How Long Should an Essay or Research Paper be?

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  1. Background essay

  2. THE LOCH NESS WITNESS

  3. What should I do with background? #music #art #realism #howtodraw #youtubeshorts #escher #artist

  4. Essay Writing

  5. How Great WAS Alexander The Great? DBQ Background Essay

  6. AMERICAS REP PARTY SHOULD BACKGROUND CHECK THEIR MEMBERS TOTALLY REFUTE THOSE UNSTABLE PATRIOTS

COMMENTS

  1. How to Structure an Essay

    The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay. General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body. The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis.

  2. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    oConsideration of counterarguments (what Sandel might say in response to this section of your argument) Each argument you will make in an essay will be different, but this strategy will often be a useful first step in figuring out the path of your argument. Strategy #2: Use subheadings, even if you remove themlater.

  3. How Long Is an Essay? The Ultimate Essay Length Guide

    Usually, it consists of 3 to 5 sentences or 50 to 80 words. An introduction must have a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. While the attention grabber and the thesis are usually brief, you may need 2 to 3 sentences for the background.

  4. How to Write an Introduction to an Essay

    Check out the following essay introduction example to get a sense of a good essay hook, the type of background information to include, and a good thesis statement. Societies have long believed that if a black cat crosses one's path, one might have bad luck—but it was not until King Charles I's black cat died that the ruler's bad luck began ...

  5. Introductions

    In general, your introductions should contain the following elements: Orienting Information. When you're writing an essay, it's helpful to think about what your reader needs to know in order to follow your argument. Your introduction should include enough information so that readers can understand the context for your thesis.

  6. Introduction paragraph

    The background information for a short essay will generally just be one or two sentences. The general statements should become more and more specific as the introduction progresses, leading the reader into the essay (some writers talk about "attracting the readers' attention", though for an academic essay, this is less important).

  7. How to Write an Introduction, With Examples

    Every good introduction needs a thesis statement, a sentence that plainly and concisely explains the main topic. Thesis statements are often just a brief summary of your entire paper, including your argument or point of view for personal essays. For example, if your paper is about whether viewing violent cartoons impacts real-life violence ...

  8. Understanding the Background in an Essay: Context and Significance

    In conclusion, the background in an essay plays a pivotal role in framing the narrative and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the topic. It provides the necessary context, establishes relevance, and engages readers by sparking their interest. Just as a painter carefully selects the backdrop for a masterpiece, writers meticulously craft ...

  9. The Best College Essay Length: How Long Should It Be?

    In the simplest terms, your college essay should be pretty close to, but not exceeding, the word limit in length. Think within 50 words as the lower bound, with the word limit as the upper bound. So for a 500-word limit essay, try to get somewhere between 450-500 words. If they give you a range, stay within that range.

  10. Essay Structure: The 3 Main Parts of an Essay

    Basic essay structure: the 3 main parts of an essay. Almost every single essay that's ever been written follows the same basic structure: Introduction. Body paragraphs. Conclusion. This structure has stood the test of time for one simple reason: It works. It clearly presents the writer's position, supports that position with relevant ...

  11. What is a Background in an Essay: Introducing Information

    Published by Josh Jasen at May 5, 2022. Background in an essay refers to material provided in a nonfiction essay or work that explains the context of the issue you will explore in the essay. This information is connected to the hook or opening statement, and then to the thesis statement, which you will write last at the end of the introduction.

  12. How to Write an Introduction Paragraph in 3 Steps

    Intro Paragraph Part 3: The Thesis. The final key part of how to write an intro paragraph is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is the backbone of your introduction: it conveys your argument or point of view on your topic in a clear, concise, and compelling way. The thesis is usually the last sentence of your intro paragraph.

  13. How Long Should an Essay Be? A Guide for Different Types of Essays

    How long should an essay be? Explore the appropriate lengths for different types of undergraduate essays to help you in your academic journey. WhatsApp +44 (0) 207 391 9032 ... They require extensive background research, data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Given the complexity of research papers, a higher word count allows for a more ...

  14. Example of a Great Essay

    Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order: An opening hook to catch the reader's attention. Relevant background information that the reader needs to know. A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument. The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay.

  15. What is the Background of a Study and How Should it be Written?

    On the contrary, the background clarifies the importance of the study in detail. The introduction provides an overview of the research topic from a broader perspective, while the background provides a detailed understanding of the topic. The introduction should end with the mention of the research questions, aims, and objectives of the study.

  16. How to Write a Background for a Research Paper: Tips

    Writing an effective background section in 3 easy steps. To create a coherent and engaging section, adhere to the following algorithm. Step 1. Recognize the research problem. Start by precisely delineating the research problem or defining the gap in current knowledge that your investigation seeks to tackle.

  17. How to Write the Perfect Harvard Essay: 3 Expert Tips

    This essay is required for all applicants and should typically be about 500-550 words long (and must be less than 650 words). To learn more about this essay, check out the current prompts for the Common App and Coalition App on their official websites.

  18. Background Information in an Essay: How to Write and Example

    When writing the background information section of the essay, start with a broad introduction to your topic. Give a brief overview of the topic's subject matter and its significance. This will set the context of the essay and grab your readers' attention. 5. Give Historical Context if Applicable.

  19. How Long Should an Essay Be? Essay Length Guide & Tips

    The answer to this question depends on the topic, scope, and depth of your essay. In general, an essay of 2-3 pages is considered short; 4-6 pages is average; 7-10 pages is long. The amount of pages also depends on the spacing you are required to use. Using double-space between paragraph extends the page count twice.

  20. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10-15% of the text. A strong essay conclusion: Returns to your thesis; Ties together your main points; Shows why your argument matters; A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final ...

  21. Background Information Examples for Essays and Papers

    Learn how to add background information to essays and papers. These background information examples will help you do it perfectly every time.

  22. How long should my essay be?

    The average length of a personal essay for college is 400─600 words. Always read the prompt. Follow the instructions provided in the application. BigFuture. Explore Careers ... How long should my essay be? The average length of a personal essay for college is 400─600 words. Always read the prompt.

  23. What the World Has Learned From Past Eclipses

    In October 1868, two astronomers, Pierre Jules César Janssen and Joseph Norman Lockyer, separately measured the colors of sunlight during a total eclipse. Each found evidence of an unknown ...