Knowing how many words in a paragraph is essential to keep your writing clear and concise. Learn more in this article.
Whether you’re writing an essay or a well-crafted letter, you must understand the purpose of a paragraph, its structure, how to write one, and of course, how long it should be. If you think your paragraph-writing skills need a little improvement, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn how many words in a paragraph makes for the most easy-to-read writing and other writing tips.
How Many Words in a Paragraph
The simple answer to how many words should be in a paragraph is around 200. But the more accurate answer is it depends. It largely depends upon the length of your larger body of work. Your paragraphs may be longer if you’re writing a 30-page essay than if you were writing a three-page paper.
Obviously, the number of words you write will vary depending on the type of writing. For example, if you’re writing a postcard there won’t be as many words as when you’re writing an academic research paper!
As a rule of thumb, you should keep your paragraphs to 100 to 200 words. You want to stick to this word count for paragraphs to keep them concise and easy to read.
A follow-up question is, how many sentences should be in a paragraph? This question has a similar answer in that it genuinely depends, but the rule of thumb is around 3-8 supporting well structured sentences. There can even be one-sentence paragraphs!
Another thing to remember is that whatever ideal paragraph length you choose, you must ensure that your paragraph lengths are consistent throughout your writing. If you have some that are 100 words and others that are 250 words, the body of work as a whole will be off, making it difficult to read.
Paragraphs in Other Types of Writing
The above rules mainly apply to academic writing, including essays, papers, and some types of articles. However, for other types of writing, these rules may not apply. Here are some examples.
Commercial writing is one of the main times you throw the “how many words in a paragraph” rule out the window.
If you’re writing for commercial purposes, the 100- to 200-word rule might be too high of a word limit. You want to keep your reader captivated, and 100 to 200 words in one paragraph is a relatively big block of text, which might dissuade some readers from looking for something quick.
For example, most of the short paragraphs in the article you’re currently reading contain no more than 50 words. This approach creates enough “white space” that makes readers think they’re reading less than they are.
A thousand words may sound like an intimidating read, but when broken up into paragraphs that are no more than two to three sentences, it becomes way more manageable. The same rules apply to news writers as well. Be sure to use our sentence corrector tool no matter which type of writing you’re doing.
Another type of writing that doesn’t subscribe to the 100 to 200-word general rule of thumb is creative writing.
As suggested by the name, creative writing allows you to take a few creative liberties with different aspects of your writing to make it more descriptive, including paragraph word counts.
One place in creative writing where you see this the most is when writing dialogue. While you can write dialogue in paragraph form, in general, to make it easier for the reader to follow along, you should write dialogue one line at a time.
Here’s an example of written dialogue.
“I’m quite tired,” said Joseph.
“But it’s only 7 PM,” said Jenna.
“Yes, but I’ve had a long day,” replied Joseph.
The above is much easier to read line by line rather than as a part of a large block of text, especially considering that there are two different speakers.
Now that you know how many words should be in a paragraph, let’s look at how to structure a paragraph.
How many paragraphs in essay writing?
It depends on the type of essay. But in general, most essays should have at least three paragraphs.
- If it’s a narrative essay, you’ll want to include at least three paragraphs about the plot of the story.
- If it’s an expository essay, you’ll want to include at least three paragraphs about your main points.
- If it’s a persuasive essay, you’ll want to include at least three paragraphs about your argument. So, really, the answer to this question depends on the type of essay you’re writing.
How Do You Structure a Paragraph?
Knowing how many words in a paragraph is only the beginning. Understanding how to structure a paragraph for well-rounded writing is equally important.
The key to structuring a paragraph is ensuring that a single paragraph focuses on one core idea. To guide you, here’s the best way to structure your paragraphs.
- Start with a topic sentence or introduction that expresses the paragraph’s main idea.
- Continue with a supporting sentence or two that elaborates on that idea.
- (Optional) Give an example of that idea in action and how it relates to the main idea.
- Finish the paragraph with a concluding sentence that wraps up the idea or transitions into a new one you’ll explore in a new paragraph.
Because you want to use shorter paragraphs, there will be times when you may have to split an idea into two.
Recap: How Many Words in a Paragraph
To recap, the simple answer to “how many words in a paragraph” is 100 to 200. However, the full answer is that the number of words in a paragraph depends on what exactly you’re writing. Just keep in mind that overly long paragraphs can be boring to read!
If you still need help figuring out the perfect number of words in a good paragraph, Grammarly or even QuillBot are great tools to help you recognize when your paragraphs are too long or when your writing isn’t descriptive enough.