Essay Length

A few words on length of essays


Length of an essay seems to be the concern of many young writers, and to give a definite answer belies the purpose of writing. The reason we write is to express views on a given subject. I have no idea how much you know about a topic or what it is you want to say, so length is an issue not of my expectations but of your knowledge, passion about the topic, and interest in being thorough and learning to write well.


I am merely interested in giving you skills with which to engage a reader by conveying your thoughts clearly and coherently with lots of support and proof for what you say. If your writing is too short, probably you have not sufficiently supported your position. If it is too long, probably you have chosen a topic that is much too large for one college type essay or has been filled with repetition, excessive verbiage, or just plain bloated filler to add to length.  No one enjoys or has patience to tediously crawl through that. As I read your essays, I am looking to see if you utilize good writing techniques, which I will abundantly help you learn. I can tell if you are using good writing skills pretty quickly as I read your essays.


This semester I have about 45 online students who will routinely be submitting essays. Whatever you submit, multiply it by 45, and that is what I have to read, critique, download, upload, and often redistribute to the class for review within hopefully one day! Consider my time. I have a wonderful life that also demands my eager attention.

Note: Be aware that for this online course essays are required to be single spaced, not double spaced as is usually required, so paper lengths would be halved what you are accustomed to doing.


As a writer you are going to have to make many decisions; length should not have to be a primary issue. You should be concerned with what you say, how you present it, and if you have adequacy supported for what you say. I leave these decisions to you the writer. If what you write is not supported or does not demonstrate good writing techniques, I will let you know. If I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time reading writing that has been puffed up to merely fill the pages, as any reader I will be uninterested and impatient while muddling through it; I will let you know.

I want you to enjoy writing not view it as a quantitative task to satisfy a professor's numerical requirements. Writing can be cathartic, satisfying, and help you learn a lot about yourself. Embrace this great opportunity you now have.

Prof. B