It happens. You pour your heart out to write the perfect college essay. You've included everything you could possibly think of in your work. Before you submit your magnificent piece of writing, you enter the essay into a word counter.
And there it is: You've come up short on your word count.
Whether it's a college application, a scholarship essay, or a report for class, word counts can be daunting sometimes. And when you come up short, there are solutions available to bulk up your writing.
This article will help you find ways to add to your word count without sacrificing on the quality of your work.
1. Know your Goal and How to Measure It Accurately
Is the requirement 800–1000 words? Is it 500 words maximum? Knowing the exact word goal is crucial when beginning to write, especially for something as important as a college entrance essay or a scholarship competition. Always be sure to read the detailed requirements for each assignment.
It's also important to use an accurate word counter for essays to calculate your word count. Find a reliable online tool to help you track your word count as you're working so you can have peace of mind that you're creating something that fits the requirements you've been given.
Once you've figured out what word count you're aiming for, it's common to look for some short cuts to help estimate your word count as you work. Some writers ask, "How many pages is 1,000 words?". Although this varies with font type, font size, and spacing choices, generally speaking, double-spaced, typed fonts provide about 250 words per page.
Remember this is just a general rule. Always verify with a word counter before you submit a piece of writing such as a college essay.
2. Be Aware of What NOT To Do
When writers fall short of word counts, they sometimes add filler words that don't improve the quality of the writing at all. Adding pointless fillers will instead make the writing weaker.
Does the following sound familiar?
You add a few more random words, ask yourself, "How many words is this now?", check it in a word counter, and then repeat this process until you've reached the desired word count.
Though I've been guilty of this myself once or twice, this is NOT the way to properly bulk up your essay.
Being wordy in your writing does not make you appear more intelligent. If you start adding miscellaneous words to your essays, it becomes very, very, very, very obvious to your reader. (See what I did there?) It would be really, really redundant and repetitive and even more redundant to just add extra words that essentially mean the same thing. (See. I did it again.)
What you choose to add to your writing needs to be high quality and necessary. This next hint will help you add words that will enhance your writing instead of hurting it.
3. Reread Your Essay and Dig Deeper
There are many ways to add quality content to your essays that will increase your word count while still improving your work. Here are some ways to dig deeper into your writing:
Add More Details
Look for places where you might have been vague and clarify. Remember to always try to show—don't tell.
For example, let's say you previously wrote: "My feet were cold."
Can you show us "cold"? Perhaps add details to explain: "My toes were tingling and numb from the chilling, icy snow that was seeping into my tattered shoes."
These details add to your word count while painting a clear picture for your reader.
Offer an Example
If it's appropriate, offer an example.
In a college application essay, you might state, "I have won several awards." However, it's more powerful to provide an example of a specific award that has a deeper meaning: "Winning the most improved player award for volleyball was a proud moment for me. It celebrated how far I had come and how hard I had to work to become a better player for myself and my teammates."
Support Arguments with More Facts and Quotes
Find areas where you are trying to make a point, and back these statements up with more detail. Is there a quality fact you can add to support your case? Is there a great quote from an expert that will help? Adding more solid evidence to your argument can help make your opinion stronger and more supported.
Change Up Your Introduction and Conclusion
The beginning and end of your essay tend to be more flexible than the body. If you feel the body of your essay is already well-supported and doesn't need more information, perhaps it's time to rework the intro or the conclusion. Is there an interesting story you can tell? Is there a way to wrap things up that is more compelling and ties your thoughts together in a more coherent way?
4. Ask a Peer for Help
Sometimes we can't see the gaps in our own writing, so asking a friend to help out can be useful.
Have your friend read through your piece and ask him for feedback. What isn't clear? What needs more explanation? What other questions does he have for you?
These questions can help guide you to places where you can expand and provide more details.
Getting an accurate word count is important for writing college essays and qualifying for scholarship opportunities. But you shouldn't just add any words to help you meet the required length; instead, make sure you're adding quality words to balance essay length with essay quality.
Using the tips mentioned above, you will be on your way to adding the bulk you need to reach your word count and improving your writing by crafting more details and clarifications that will ultimately produce a better piece of writing.