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How many paragraphs does an essay have?

Aug 17, 2020


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A paragraph is a section that addresses an idea or argument. An essay can have as many paragraphs as is required to present the topic thoroughly. The most common essay arrangement is the five-paragraph essay (hamburger essay). So, it is safe to assume that the minimum number of paragraphs an essay can have is 4 or 5 paragraphs. 

However, when writing essays of more substantial volumes, you require a more technical approach to determining the number of paragraphs needed.

How many paragraphs should my essay have?

As mentioned earlier, the standard unit of measurement is five paragraphs. However, teachers and essay writing experts frown at the limitations of the hamburger essay model. They recommend that students determine the number of paragraphs themselves according to the following:

Type of essay

  • An argumentative essay is a perfect fit for the 5-paragraph format because it contains five sections: the introduction, the claim, the rebuttal, the counterclaim, and the conclusion.
  • An expository essay can also contain five or more paragraphs depending on the issue being addressed.
  • When writing a persuasive essay, you can increase the number of paragraphs above five to properly come up with a convincing narrative.
  • A descriptive essay does not have any restrictions. Use as many paragraphs as you deem sufficient to provide an excellent description of the subject.

The length of the assignment

Short and average length essays can follow the 5-paragraph standard, but long essays don’t fit the mold. 

Let’s take a look at the recommendations from writing guides:

A paragraph in an academic paper should contain around 100 to 150 words. Thus, five paragraphs should be enough to properly explore the entire scope of essays between 500 and 800 words. 

When writing a custom essay above 1000 words, you will struggle to fit every detail into five paragraphs without derailing the reader’s train of thought.

In essence, you should always consider the type of essay and the word limit when determining the necessary number of paragraphs. When in doubt, use the 5-paragraph model for any academic paper.

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