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How to Quickly Increase Your Essay or Dissertation Word Count

No matter how much work you put into a piece of writing you can sometimes find yourself short of the required word count. While most colleges and universities allow students to be 5-10% under the required words, less than this will result in significantly lower marks. In these situations, it is advisable to find ways of adding to your total number of words.

This article will give you a few suggestions for quickly and easily increasing your word count.

Clarify your statements – An easy way to increase word count is to look for sentences that can be clarified with a follow-up statement. Although you need to avoid over-using this technique so that your writing doesn’t become too long-winded, you can effectively insert a few sentences that start with “in other words…” or “for example…”.

Use supporting quotations – If you haven’t already, add a few quotations from well-respected authors to support your own points. Alternatively, you can slightly increase the length of text that you’ve already cited, by including the sentence before or after the relevant quote.

Add another example – Look for paragraphs where you’ve used examples to illustrate your points, and add another one. This can demonstrate your thorough understanding of the topic, and it will add a significant number of words.

Insert tables or diagrams – While your bibliography and footnotes aren’t usually included in the word count, tables, diagrams and illustrations are, especially when they appear in the main body of the work. Try to find relevant items to insert that provide important data, rather than purely illustrative material.

Address alternative viewpoints – A great way to add words (and increase the quality of the work) is to consider opposing viewpoints. If you can find sources that counter your own argument, be sure to include these and also explain why you feel your own position is superior.

Consult one more text – Although you may feel like you’ve already put many days and hours of work into your writing, you can still eke out more words if you simply consult one more source. To save time, approach this strategically by consulting the source for specific topics that you’ve already mentioned in your writing. If it’s a book, use the index to quickly locate relevant material.
Expand your introduction or Conclusion – Finally, a good place to add words is in the Introduction and Conclusion. These paragraphs are typically expected to be less critical in nature, so you can get away with padding them out a bit.

Further Reading

Kjell Erik Rudestam, 2007. Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. 3rd Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc.

Northedge, A. (2005) The good study guide. [S.l.]: Open University Press.

Open University Course Team (2008) Thinking Critically. Milton Keynes: The Open University.