The Ideal Number of Paragraphs in an Essay

author By Mary Boies

So you have been assigned an essay, read the instructions, picked the topic, researched scholarly sources, and developed a preliminary thesis. All that remains is to write the essay word after word, sentence after sentence, and paragraph after paragraph.

You are eyeing to write an epic piece that will most likely be a first-class essay. But before everything else, there is something that bothers your mind: how many paragraphs do you need for the essay? And how do you tell the number of paragraphs to include?

Essays come in all lengths; we have short essays and longer essays. Using the right amount of words and meeting the word count is part of the assessment determining your grade.

You cannot afford to go past the word limit just because you can't tell the number of paragraphs to include in a standard essay. This is why we are writing this comprehensive guide to make your writing process easy. We look at the different paragraph formats, the number of paragraphs, and how many paragraphs to include, given the instructions and word limit.

How Many Paragraphs Make an Essay?

An ideal standard essay should be at least three paragraphs long, covering the introduction, body, and conclusion for a 1-page essay. An essay can also have five paragraphs, a limiting rule that only applies to essays above two pages. Longer essays above six pages can have as many as 12 paragraphs as long as you follow the 10-80-10 paragraph rule.

You notice that short essays have few paragraphs compared to longer ones, and your professor might decide the number of words or paragraphs included. The context, the topic's complexity, and the essay's size also define the number of paragraphs.

We have a comprehensive guide on writing a good paragraph, explaining the elements that make a good paragraph and how many sentences or words to include for good paragraphing.

Most instructors require you to write an essay that meets the word count. And if there is a range of pages, you get the average and write an essay that meets the word limit. As you do so, you should ensure that the paragraphs are well-balanced.

It is advisable to use the 10-80-10 essay format to write an essay. This means 10% of the word count for the introduction, 80% for the body paragraphs, and 10% for the conclusion. Some professors prefer the 20-60-20 essay format, where 20% of the word count covers the introduction, 60% the body paragraphs, and 20% the closing paragraph.

Whichever format you select, know that the number of paragraphs depends on a series of factors.

Related Reading:

Things That Define the Number of Paragraphs in an Essay

It does not matter whether you are writing an informative, argumentative, persuasive, or comparison essay; what matters is that there is an optimal number of paragraphs and specific paragraph formats to follow. You have the freedom to determine how many paragraphs you prefer to use, but the extent of that freedom is defined by the factors below:

Instructions (Essay Prompt or the Rubric)

Some instructors are very detailed when giving instructions. Apart from specifying the ideal topics to select for your essay, they will suggest the expected length of paragraphs, number of paragraphs, number of sentences in a paragraph, and the expected word count limit for your final draft.

Ideally, the number of words in an essay will dictate the number of paragraphs you will include. So be keen enough to check the rubric or essay prompt to determine the right amount of paragraphs to include. Some instructors will suggest using short paragraphs, while some prefer long paragraphs.

Number of pages

The assignment instructions or prompts will always specify the number of pages to write. You can use the number of pages to estimate the size of your essay, the number of paragraphs to include, and thus the size of the paragraphs.

Assuming a page is between 275 and 300 words, the distribution of standard paragraphs should be between 100 and 150 words per paragraph. Typically, a standard double-spaced page should contain 2-3 paragraphs.

When writing, ensure that you stick to a paragraphing format that favors the number of pages. For short essays, use the three-paragraph format, while for slightly longer essays, use the five-paragraph format.

Context and content of the essay

Essays come in different types of contexts and complexities. Some essays will require a straightforward answer to the essay question, while others will need in-depth critical analysis. For brief essays, you must use short, precise, concise, or direct paragraphs.

Most such essays need between 3 and 4 paragraphs to answer the prompt or address the topic comprehensively. An example is an exam essay or a TOK essay, where you explore a topic in about 500 to 1000 words.

Apart from content, the context of your essay also speaks to the number of paragraphs to include. For instance, if you are writing an argumentative essay, you might be required to use five paragraphs rather than three, considering you must include the arguments and counterarguments.

A strict instructor will make your essay based on context and content. The context defines the structure, and the content defines the length. They combine to determine how many paragraphs you can have in an excellent essay. The content is more critical for an essay than the number of paragraphs as it defines whether or not you met the instructions.

The Main Points

The more main points or arguments you have, the more paragraphs you will use.

A body paragraph contains a single idea defined by the topic sentence but related to the thesis statement. Therefore, if you cover more points in the body, you will likely have many paragraphs compared to when you have a few points.

The fewer the points in your essay outline, the fewer the paragraphs it will have in the body since the introduction, and conclusion paragraphs are a standard and contribute to either 10% or 20% of the word count.

Count the points you have planned to use for your essay to determine the number of paragraphs you will have in the body, then add the conclusion and introduction paragraphs.

Length of the Paragraphs

The length or size of every paragraph in your essay determines how many paragraphs your essay will be. The longer the paragraphs, the fewer the number of paragraphs; the shorter your paragraphs, the likelier you will use many paragraphs.

Given that a standard paragraph has 100-150 words, you can estimate the number of paragraphs to include in an essay based on the number of words you schedule for every paragraph.

A 1000-word essay will have about 7-10 paragraphs of between 100 and 150 words if we follow the 10-80-20 paragraph format. If you love short essays, you will have fewer paragraphs than someone who loves longer essays with many or larger paragraphs.

Type of Essay you are Writing

The type of essay you are writing will also define the number of words and, thus, paragraphs you will include in an essay.

Short essays like grad school essays, college essays, statements of purpose, admission essays, and personal statements have fewer paragraphs. You can write them in one paragraph, two paragraphs, or three paragraphs and meet the target word count.

Also read:

On the other hand, if you are writing an expository, argumentative, descriptive, process, profile, informative, persuasive, or character analysis essay, you will need more words and paragraphs. You need many paragraphs to comprehensively develop your thesis by presenting arguments and facts and giving examples/illustrations.

Essays that require in-depth analysis, exposition, and cross-comparison require more paragraphs than straightforward, direct essays.

Standard Paragraph Structure/Format for Essays

Multi-paragraph essays can be written in three or five paragraphs by the standard. Given this classification, a lot of essays will lean toward different formats.

For instance, compare and contrast essays, argumentative essays, informative essays, descriptive essays, profile essays, and classification essays are best written in a 5-paragraph format.

It is a typical format for medium-length and longer essays. The standard five-paragraph essay has an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.

On the other hand, three-paragraph essays that are simplified than standard five-paragraph essays are preferred for shorter essays.

The three-paragraph essay has an introduction paragraph, a body paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph. It is suitable for essays with a word count limit of 250-400 words.

Examples of essays that lean towards a three-paragraph format include narrative essays, personal essays, admission essays, and exam essays.

Whether an essay is short or long, using hook/attention-grabbers, a clear thesis, and well-balanced body paragraphs is a standard best practice.

Before you go …

Writing essays is a critical part of a student's academic journey. If you get the number of paragraphs right, everything else flows and falls into its rightful place. Now that we know how to gauge the number of paragraphs an essay has, what's left is writing it.

Writing an essay can be arduous, especially if you don't have time and the motivation. If you have writer's block, it even gets worse. Not to worry, though, because we have expert essay writers for hire who can take over your writing woes. You can use our best writers to write essays with the correct number of paragraphs, formatting, and structure.

What's more, we allow you to communicate with the writers so that you can exchange ideas on what you need to feature in your essay. Many students have benefitted from our bespoke essay writing services thanks to our competent team of writers that customizes an essay to your taste and preferences.

If you need help, visit our home page and place your order. Say goodbye to essay blues, boring topics, and other challenges between you and a deadline. Our essay helpers are ready for your task.

Also Read:

Frequently Asked Questions

Let's try answering common questions about the number of paragraphs ideal for an essay.

What's the purpose of a paragraph?

A paragraph compartmentalizes, structures, or organizes information into subtopics, making it easier to read, comprehend, and assess. The paragraphs help to explore one main point deeply and connect it to the thesis statement. Therefore, the number of main points determines how many paragraphs you will have in the essay's body.

How long is a comprehensive essay?

A typical or comprehensive essay has a minimum of two pages or five paragraphs covering the introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion paragraph. Long essays will have about 7-10 paragraphs, including arguments, claims, counterarguments, and supporting ideas. If a paper is beyond ten paragraphs, it becomes a research paper, term paper, or thesis, not an essay. Typical high school essays are about 3 to 9 paragraphs, while college-level essays will be 3 to 10 pages.

How many sentences make a good paragraph?

A paragraph is between 100 and 150 words, meaning you can comfortably write three long sentences for a complete paragraph. A typical paragraph should have three to ten sentences, and if you have more than ten sentences in a paragraph, that's probably too much. You can create a perfect paragraph by mixing short and long sentences but avoid run-on sentences as they ruin the flavor of a paragraph.

What's the ideal number of paragraphs for an argumentative essay?

If assigned an argumentative essay, ensure that you write a complete one with at least five paragraphs. You can have up to 7-9 paragraphs for an argumentative essay, depending on the number of main points and counterarguments you are presenting.

How many paragraphs are there on a double-spaced page?

A paragraph is between 100 and 150 words long, and a double-spaced page is around 275-300 words long. This means that a typical double-spaced page has 2-3 paragraphs.

Can the number of words determine how many paragraphs an essay has?

Yes, you can tell how many paragraphs your essay will have from the number of words. Let's look at some logical examples below:

How many paragraphs is a 1000-word essay?

A standard 1000-word essay is about four pages, and it should have between 6 and 7 paragraphs, depending on how long those paragraphs are. Longer paragraphs will produce six paragraphs, and short paragraphs will produce at least seven.

Can an essay have more than five paragraphs?

Yes. There is no set rule on the number of paragraphs; the only standard best practice is making an essay have a minimum of three paragraphs. A standard long essay is about 14-15 paragraphs and is ten pages long. Having more than five paragraphs is acceptable and good if you write long essays.

Need a Discount to Order?

15% OFF First Order!

What you get from us


Plagiarism-free papers

Our papers are 100% original and unique to pass online plagiarism checkers.


Well-researched academic papers

Even when we say essays for sale, they meet academic writing conventions.

24/7 support

24/7 online support

Hit us up on live chat or Messenger for continuous help with your essays.


Easy communication with writers

Order essays and begin communicating with your writer directly and anonymously.