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Not enough words! Getting over the word count scare.

Updated on October 3, 2014
Word count scare
Word count scare

This blog post is to be 500 words. How much can I say in 500 words? Will it be enough? Should I add and delete individual words to make the count come out even? Will I have to write interminable questions about my topic in order to stretch the count to 500?

Many students spend undue time worrying about word count, thinking that the prescribed quantity of words is more important than the quality of content. The popular response to a minimum word count is to write what you can and then fill up the blank space with extra nonsense. This can lead to unnecessarily long papers full of nothing, and professors who are not only unimpressed by the few pages of real material, but also irritated by the pages of filler wasting their time.

It is important to see the word count for what it is: a guideline for how much depth is required in the paper. High word count means that many topics need to be covered, or that detail is called for in the topics chosen. Low word count means that a high level summary is called for, covering the basics of the topic and telling the reader what you know without explaining how you know it.

In ten words or less: Word count is not as important as making your point.

Always be sure that your core point has been made, and made as well as the word count dictates. Professors are training you for professional life, and the professional world values time above anything else. Learning to be succinct is what word count assignments are all about. Professors are happy if you can demonstrate that you have a strong grasp of the subject, can answer the questions posed by the assignment, and can come up with at least one original thought on the matter. When they grade your essay, they will grade it on these points. They will not count the words- they will weigh them.

It is an irony of academia that word counts are seen as a demand for fluff, rather than a call for concision.

If you are having trouble wrestling with the word count demon, CollegePaperReview can help. Editing services ensure that your essay is saying what it means to say, and that each word is the correct one. A good proofreader can trim the fat from an over-limit paper, or highlight points that can be filled out. College Paper Review is dedicated to exactly that: making your paper do its job without worry, stress, or counting.

In short, when faced with a word count paper: Determine the depth called for, make your point succinctly but strongly, and lastly, edit. That sentence is 23 words long, and sums up this entire article, which is only 483 words long. Should I add more words?


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