How To Make An Essay Look Longer

It’s somewhat difficult to make demands on essays for students – demanding that they have 500 words, for example, leads to really, really, very, extremely superfluous lists of adjectives and describing words like this sentence to up the word count. Other teachers use the page count as a metric of completion. But what happens when you have 4 and a half pages done of your five page essay? There are plenty of writing techniques to flesh ideas out and make it longer, but I’m assuming that your essay is perfect as it is and you want a more technological answer. Here are a few techniques that have served me well. I use them all the time.


Note: This tutorial is for Microsoft Word as a part of Office 2007, although many of the same techniques can be used in previous or subsequent versions of Word.

Font Choice and Font Size

First, font or font size is a fairly easy way to make an essay longer. Some teachers demand that Times New Roman size 12 be used. However, when they forget to add that to the rules, you can change it to whatever you want (assuming there’s no blanket statement about it on the syllabus). You want to choose a font that maximizes height. Obviously you don’t want to choose a font that’s too difficult to read, as it may annoy the person grading it. Below is a picture of the word “Hello” printed four times, each at size 12. The fonts, from left to right, are “Angsana New”, “Calibri”, “Times New Roman”, and “Algerian”.

Font size can also make a big impact on your paper. Going with a size 72 font will undoubtedly make your paper surpass the required page count, but isn’t the best idea. Just changing the font size from 12 to 13 can add a few lines to your paper. Below is a picture of identical text in two columns, both in Times New Roman, but size 12 on the left and size 13 on the right.

Even if your teacher demands size 12 Times New Roman, you might be tempted to change it anyway. Slight changes are fairly hard to measure in a printout, however, it is possible. For instance, if a teacher were to print out the word “the” in Times New Roman size 12 on a piece of transparency paper, they could then hold it over a word “the” in your essay and confirm whether or not it’s identical. Probably not going to happen, but it actually has happened to me before. In terms of digital submissions, many tools that allow for online submission let you submit in more formats than just .doc or .docx. For instance, if you convert the document to a PDF, it’s harder to tell what individual font sizes are (especially if you secure it).

Space Between lines

The spacing between lines is very difficult to measure because although in most fonts the top and bottom edges vary significantly. In some fonts, there is a common edge except for letters that hang above or below the line, but in fonts that are meant to look more like handwriting, there is not. In any case, even with common edges, it’s not likely that your teacher will whip out a ruler and measure. Too large a gap may arouse suspicion, but changing an essay from double spaced to 2.1 spacing may actually make a large difference. The thing to remember is that the longer the base essay, the more they amplify the length. So for instance, if your essay is 10 lines with double spacing, and you change the spacing to 2.1, you get an extra 0.1 of a line for every line you’ve written, and 0.1×10 = 1. So, for every ten lines you actually write, you get the effect of having written eleven instead. For an essay that’s 4.5 pages, this tiny change can easily bring you over the 5 page mark and is virtually undetectable. Below is two paragraphs, the left with single spacing and the right is 1.1 spacing. This really demonstrates the potential of the small change.

To change the spacing between lines, you’ll need to access the “Paragraph” menu I believe that in older versions of Word this could be done by going to Format -> Paragraph. In Word 2007, it can be accessed by going to the “Page Layout” tab of the ribbon and clicking on the pop-out button of the Paragraph rectangle.

From there, under Line Spacing, choose “Multiple”, and under At, choose a number close to something normal, like 1.1 or 2.1. You can increase this difference at the risk of the teacher noticing.

Margins

Changing the margins of a page is another great way to change the length of your paper. By decreasing the amount of space the words can take up per page, you increase the number of pages required to fit your existing content. Changing the left margin is a bit risky since most papers are left-justified, meaning that the left edge will be relatively the same for all papers. The right margin, however, can be changed to your heart’s content, since the length of words, number of letters, and number of spaces greatly affect each line’s right edge. You can also increase the amount of space taken up by the header and footer of a document.

Lengthen Header Content

One final way you can make a paper appear longer is by adding more lines to the header of your document. If you make it too long, be sure to have it on only the first page and not every page, as this would be incredibly obvious.

Other Notes

If your teacher demands that an essay be 5 pages long and no longer, but your paper is slightly longer, you can use these same techniques in reverse to make your paper look shorter. For instance, you can change double spacing to 1.9 spacing, or increase the margins.

21 Responses to How To Make An Essay Look Longer

  1. Amanda Doretti says:

    If you must have MLA format and the essay is turned in electronically the teachers will be able to see the changes of font size and other things. So the easiest thing for me is to increase the font size of just the periods to 14 instead of the required 12 font. This makes your essay lines more spaced out and sentences longer. Even though it is not a huge change, it makes a very big difference.

  2. COOL2 says:

    REALLY REALLY LIKE THIS

  3. Char says:

    This helped me so much!!!

  4. Pigeon says:

    It’s 5 am, my paper’s topic would have sent me to sleep hours ago if it weren’t for the Red Bulls, and you’ve been added to my list of “People I Will Buy a Drink for if I Ever Meet Them”.

  5. Nichole Herrin says:

    You my good sir have just made my night! If you’re ever in Atlanta I will be MORE than happy to buy you a drink as well! :)

  6. Mar says:

    I don’t know you. But I love you.

  7. Boof says:

    Recently I had to write a 12-page essay on a mostly-factual topic. It wasn’t pretty. I was on the eleventh page when I found that I simply couldn’t add any more to the paper no matter how I tried. A quick change to all the margins from 1.0 to 1.1 boosted my essay to fill the entire twelfth page! I wish I had found this article earlier, though, as I didn’t know that modifying the left margin is risky.

    In retrospect, I really should have just changed the line spacing from 2.0 to 2.1, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that thanks to Word’s confusing line spacing interface. Now I know that I can set the spacing to “multiple” and achieve the desired effect!

    I also recommend “adding space between paragraphs of the same style” as is done by default in Word 2010. It doesn’t make a really significant difference, but for every paragraph you write you’ll gain about 1 extra line.

    To all you essay writers out there: these techniques should really only be used as a last resort. If you are able to flush out your entire essay, do that instead of modifying its layout. Only when you are completely stuck and need just one more page or so should you use the strategies here.

  8. Gwen says:

    You are amazing. Another thing that I tried at one time was to bold the periods. it made my 4 1/4 page research paper into a 5 page paper. Just trying to help out some more.

  9. Suchakree Boonyang says:

    I was struggling to write 10 pages of term paper. Thank you for the tips!!!!

  10. Ben says:

    Thank you!! =,) Thank you so much!

  11. so hot says:

    tnx so much that helps a lot .I had to write 3 pages and I only had 1 page and ur advice works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Kassidy Young says:

    You sir are amazing. Thank you SO SO SO much.

  13. Dak says:

    I owe you a drink sir. It’s 5:00 A.M. and this paper is due in a few hours. Five and a half pages out of eight! Tough night oh and screw Marry Shelley and Frankenstein.

  14. sophie says:

    in college i made my periods a font size bigger and doing that to all puntuation can add up to 1/4 to a page and teacher will NEVER know

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  16. Rachel says:

    I have two 12-15 page research essays due in the same week and this post just saved my life. I never would’ve thought of changing the line spacing from 2.0 to 2.1, but it added about another page length to what I’d already typed. Bless you.

  17. jesus moreno says:

    ERMERGERD these pointers helped out sooo much I absolutely hate typing term papers for my class and this helps out a bunch THANKS A MILLION.

  18. Anna Barnet says:

    Hey, I’m a TA and when I have to grade lab reports, I always select all and change to 12pt times new roman even if it looks like it is already, and I check the margins and spacing. I don’t actually ever have to take points off for length, just check to make sure that the essay has x number of examples of y thing and an explanation for each. Be careful because I know a few of the English TAs do that to all the papers before the prof. grades them if the TAs aren’t grading.

  19. BENJAMIN BARRY says:

    praise the man, you are the new black baby jesus. bruh, you are my sunshine on a cloudy day, I am your loyal friend to the ends of the fiery underworld, all of the twinkies shall be yours. may your palm tree forever sway high.

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