It does not matter if you are a high school student or a Stanford University freshman; you will certainly be snowed under numerous writing tasks assigned to you on a daily basis. When the writing assignment requires one to follow some short essay format, students may be happy about it, but in reality, it does not mean at all that the task will be easy. In some cases, short essay writing assignments may be even more complicated than some lengthy papers.

Mastering the principles of short essay writing is essential for one's success because due to the limited number of pages, short essay writing should be brief and concise. When elaborating some topic, it is a must to be succinct and clear in expressing your ideas. So, you should know how to convey your ideas in a clear and brief manner.


A short essay is a piece of writing that is 500 words on average. If you need to write in double-spacing, it means that you should write approximately two full pages. If you need to follow single-space format, then it should be one full page. The basic formatting style requires you to use Times New Roman or some similar legible font that is 12 pt. in size. The margins should be standard and left aligned but for the titles or headings.

If you have no specific essay prompt from your professor on how to handle this short essay, you should follow the basic essay writing guidelines. When it comes to the content and paper development, the requirements are virtually the same. The differences may concern the paper length and the way you elaborate ideas within the limited word count. Even if the essay is short, do not underestimate the role of composing a paper outline. It will help you include the most important elements without adding irrelevant facts and details.

Guidelines on Writing Short Essays

Just like for any other type of writing, there are some fundamental principles and rules on how to write a short essay that students have to know about. The major parts that comprise a short essay are introduction, body, and conclusion. While introduction and conclusion are one paragraph long each, the number of paragraphs in the body is usually dictated by the topic of the short essay. If essay topic is difficult, most you will have more paragraphs since you would need more space to discuss all the details of the topic. If the essay topic is very narrow, one or two paragraphs should usually be enough. However, having an outline is a must for starting short essay writing process regardless of the number of paragraphs you are going to have in your paper.

Short essay structure


Talking about a short essay format, we have to say that introduction is extremely important in terms of a paper organization since it has to provide the effective opening line for the whole essay defining the further path for writing. If it is possible, the topic of a short essay should be arguable and provocative in order to make the discussion engaging. You need to think of an effective thesis statement that will draw readers’ attention and keep them interested throughout the entire essay. The importance of a well-written introduction is emphasized by the fact that it influences readers’ understanding of the topic as well as provides a clear understanding of the structure of the writing and how the content is going to unfold. Although the major point of the essay has to be presented in the introduction, namely in the thesis statement, it should not be too detailed not to bore the readers from the very first paragraph. An effective way to make your introduction more appealing and engaging is to include some quotations that will provide some hint about the topic of your essay and how it can be developed.

Essay Body Paragraphs

Yet, the major part that the essay revolves around is the body, which should open all the facts, arguments, supporting evidence, and viewpoints on the subject. All information needs to be appropriately and coherently listed so that readers could enjoy smooth reading and actually understand your claims. If in the course of your research and preparation of your essay you found nice quotes, dates, names that could help you discuss the topic better, use them in the main body section to illustrate the facts and provide examples. However, keep in mind that all the paragraphs in the body of the short essay should be logically connected, thus use transitions for smooth flow of the text. In case you feel that your paragraphs do not follow the general flow of your thoughts, you may want to go back to the outline for your essay to get a better perspective on how you can fix some things.

Essay Body: Paragraph Structure

In order to be understood by the readers, you need to keep your arguments separate and develop each one of them in different paragraphs. In fact, such division will help you stay focused without losing the line of thought. Thus, you need to try making each argument objective, narrow, and specific. Although there are no strict guidelines on how to write each body paragraph, you may use some advice from the experienced writers:

  • First things go first – you need to discuss the strongest points in the first paragraph of the essay body.

  • Arguments with less strong supporting evidence should be presented in a descending order.

  • The weakest arguments should be discussed and presented in the closing paragraphs of the essay body.

Such organization of arguments from the strongest to the weakest will help your readers better understand your point as well as it will convince them in to take your side on the issue/topic.


The main body is the largest part of your essay, but when you are done with that it doesn’t mean you are done writing. Now you need to provide a clear summary of all points and arguments in a concluding paragraph. The conclusion should contain the restatement of the thesis statement, the summary of the discussion, and the wrapping up point. A clear conclusion will make your readers think and analyze what they have learned from your essay.

How to Write a Short Essay? Essential Information

When writing a short essay, you need to ensure proper structure, namely provide an introductory paragraph with a strong and clear thesis statement, elaborate the ideas in the body paragraphs, and then sum up the discussion in the conclusion. As a rule, a short essay ranges from 250 to 500 words. Regarding the number of paragraphs, some standard requirements of a short essay predetermine five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. Such clarity of structure will make it easier for the target audience to comprehend the ideas. Depending on the subject area and the very essay topic, you may need to conduct research and explore the topic thoroughly. Consulting credible and peer-reviewed sources will help you prove your point. If you're struggling, consider buying a research paper from a reliable source to ensure a well-researched, properly structured essay. Check out some of the main guidelines below for writing a successful short essay.

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Steps on How to Write Successful Short Essay

  1. Come up with the topic and explore it in depth. If your professor has not assigned a topic, you need to select a topic on your own. Depending on the topic or the research field you are investigating, you need to decide what type of essay writing you need. After that, identify the key points that you want to address. It is essential to outline the main goal of writing.
  2. Organize your thoughts. Use one of the most relevant methods for you in order to organize your ideas. After you have identified the main ideas or points you would like to analyze in the paper, think of how you can structure them within a paper and how you can show relation between the points.
  3. Formulate a strong thesis statement. Remember that it should be argumentative and clear for the audience to perceive the main point. In other words, the main point of writing should be grasped from the thesis statement. A thesis statement should consist of two parts – a brief statement about the very topic (a summative one) and the other paper related to the main points addressed in the essay.
  4. Develop the main body. Every main idea that you have singled out while you were preparing a paper plan or outline should be now discussed in a separate body paragraph. Each of the paragraphs should begin with a clear topic sentence, where you introduce the idea. Further, you need to come up with examples and illustrations aimed to support the argument.
  5. Write the introductory paragraph. Keep in mind that an introduction should contain a hook, where you draw attention of your audience to the whole discussion. It is recommended to formulate the introduction after you have developed the main body since it will be easier for you to organize it logically. Besides, in such case, you will be able to write it more quickly.
  6. Write the conclusion. Do not introduce any new ideas but just reiterate the main points covered over the whole paper. Make the conclusion brief – do not provide more than four or five sentences.
  7. Add final strokes to the paper. Brush up what you have written by paying attention to the short essay format. Remember that the ideas should be provided in the order of importance: from the most important one to the least essential one. Review the instructions once again and check whether your paper contains relevant ideas.