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Writing Center

If you are thinking: I have trouble making the paper long enough

College writers will often say something like: “I’m writing a 5-page paper” or “a 12-page research paper.” With college writing assignments, it’s easy to put a lot of focus on the minimum length—the number of pages of writing that will get the job done.

Think of paper-length as just a guideline. Then, come up with an idea that will take 5 pages to discuss fully, or a research topic narrow enough to be covered thoroughly in 12-pages (or whatever your assignment guideline is).

The problem of a paper that’s too short is one that can be solved in the Pre-Writing step. Trying to solve it while you are composing will just lead to repetition and padding. If you’ve come to the end of your ideas with two more pages to fill, chances are your thesis statement is not strong enough or its scope is not broad enough.

The Purdue online writing lab offers suggestions to make sure that your main idea is strong and its scope neither too broad nor too narrow.