How to write a short essay in 2021

How to write a short essay in 2021

Essay writing is never an easy task. More so, there are many different types of essays. A short essay can often prove to be more complicated to write than a long essay. Learning how to write a short essay is essential since it helps you to express your thoughts clearly and in brief. This is an invaluable communication skill that will be employed in real life, that is, both classroom and professional situations.

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In long essays, there is enough room for you to explain and clarify all your points. In a short essay, however, you may not have the indulgence of elaborating too much on your points. Hence, you may feel that your argument is not strong enough. The principle of writing a short essay is to include the most valid information necessary to put your point across.

What is a short essay?

Before getting to the short essay definition, let us first distinguish what generally an essay is. An essay is a piece of writing that expresses facts, opinions, or experiences on a particular subject. The purpose of an essay is to study, critique, make observations, comment, narrate or analyze ideas of a particular subject in your voice and according to your understanding.

short essay

What is considered a short essay?

A short essay, therefore, is an essay written in short. The same guiding principles apply to writing a short essay as they do to a long essay with the major difference being length.

Short essays often cover catchy issues or topics. Ideas and themes are not deeply delved into in this kind of essay. When writing a short essay, communicate your ideas from the onset by replying to the main argument. As a writer, you retain the right to give your opinion if needed. Therefore, the main distinction of a short essay is its limited word count and the depth of the ideas presented.

The length of a short essay

By now, you may be continuously asking yourself so how long is a short essay?  A short essay should consist of a maximum of 400 words. There is leeway to go up to 500 words but this will depend on the topic under discussion. Typically, the minimum page count for a short essay is half a page and the maximum page count is one page, for single-spaced work. For double-spaced words, the page count just becomes double of half and a full page respectively.

Short essay format

A short essay follows a very specific structure due to its limited word count. The structure to be followed is a five-paragraph structure. That is; one paragraph is the introduction, three paragraphs for the body, and one paragraph for the conclusion.


The introduction is a very important part of any essay writing. Make sure your introduction grabs the reader’s attention and sparks an interest in them to keep reading the essay. Do not overlook creating a good impression on your audience despite it being a short essay. Persuade and draw in your audience on why they should read your paper and with that, you have already commenced writing the essay.

Form a thesis statement that is suitable for the last sentence of the introduction. Focus mainly on the problem statement and claim proof. The thesis should be subject to discussion and should provoke the readers to argue with your position. Make sure your argumentative claim is very clear such that you can grasp the main idea by reading it.


Three of your five paragraphs should be dedicated to the main body. This part of the short essay should contain your key ideas and supporting evidence or facts. Divide your ideas into micro-topics each having its paragraph.

Position your strongest argument in the first paragraph and back it up with suitable facts and information. Arguments with less effective supporting information should consequently be listed in descending order. Cite all your findings from external secondary sources according to your formatting requirements. Use correct grammar and ensure your narration is smooth and the transition is seamless across your ideas.


short essay conclusion

This final paragraph put forward the outcomes of the analysis. In this part, you should demonstrate that ideas in the main body support the thesis statement. The conclusion of a short essay is more of a synthesis than a summary of the essay. You must satisfy the problem statement raised in the introduction. The main purpose of this part of the essay is to leave the reader with a new insight into the subject.

Writing a short essay

Since you have defined what a short essay is and outlined its format, the next logical question to ask would be, how to write a short essay. Below are the elements of a short essay:

1.   Length

The greatest definitive of a short essay is its length. You can’t put too much content in a short essay otherwise it will end up being a long essay. An easy way to do this is to create an outline first of the points you want to put across.  From your outline, choose the points that have a strong argument and evidence to back them up.

Thesis statement

When writing a short essay, you should consider two things; placement and complexity. Your thesis should appear depending on how long or short your essay is. For example, your thesis should appear in the first three lines if you are writing a 3-4 paragraph essay. If you are writing a 1-2 paragraph essay, place your thesis in the first sentence and make sure it acts as a hook for the essay.

Keep in mind the complexity of your topic. Choose a topic that can be well covered and discussed in a short essay. Keep your thesis precise and bind your supporting points.

3.   Sections

The essay has to be divided into different parts. Each part serves its function in making the essay to be whole. The three parts are; introduction, body, and conclusion. For short essays, the introduction, and conclusion do not have to belong. They can comprise only one paragraph each.

Guidelines for writing a short essay

To write a short essay requires the use of some tactics and precision. Short essays vary topically and lengthwise. As such, it is important that you re-evaluate your main ideas before putting pen to paper. Here are a few tips to make the writing process less daunting.

Choose your topic carefully

Choosing topics for short essay

The first step in the writing process is not writing but reading. Read your essay prompt carefully and highlight the central question. Ensure you understand and know what exactly the question demands of you.

In a case where you do not have a prompt to guide you, pick a topic that interests you. With this, you will be able to create an interesting and well-thought-out essay as enthusiasm and passion will be portrayed in the essay. Choosing a topic you are fascinated by makes you your audience. Hence, the readers can feel the authenticity and truth in the essay, compared to picking a topic you have no interest in.

Understand your target audience

Have in mind the kind of audience you are writing for. After doing a lot of reading and research, deliver your writing in such a way that is relatable to your readers. Whether they are experts, casual readers, or even your instructor the vocabulary and tone should be suited to the reader.

Use reliable sources of research information

Information from reliable sources ensures the delivery of quality work. Look for relevant books, articles, publications, and existing research that are most relevant to your topic and up to date. For online resources, use more with the domain suffix .gov or .edu. These kinds of sites usually contain unbiased information.

Do not be wordy

In a short essay, it makes more sense to deliver your points without much verbiage. This kind of essay has a limited word count. Keep the structure of your sentences short and precise.

Use proofreading and editing services

It is common to make a mistake while writing an essay. The biggest mistake you can make is to think that your essay is flawless. Use online proofreading services to check for typos, grammar use, etc.

APA Format

All academic papers should be properly formatted, depending on the Specifics of a particular style guide. The most suitable short essay format in APA style. Citing sources and organizing your paper shows your readers how and where you got the information in your writing.

Below are some general rules to follow when writing a paper in APA format for short essays;

  • Your paper should be typed on standard size (8.5 x 11) with a one-inch margin on all sides
  • All text should be double spaced
  • The first line of every paragraph should be indented at 0.5 inches
  • Use an appropriate font such as; Times New Roman, Sans Serif, Arial, etc. with a font size of 12 points

Short essay topics

Here are a few short essay topics that would be suitable for this kind of writing;

  • Describe the moment met your spouse
  • What is the most modern programming language?
  • Effect of violent video games on the mind
  • How do you want to spend the upcoming summer vacation?
  • The immoral task of wildlife hunting
  • Education needs to be made free for all
  • What causes teenagers to commit suicide?

Short essay example

After we have learned all the ins and outs of writing a short essay, below is a short essay example for reference;

Education needs to be made free for all

Education is a human right. It is an important tool in the holistic development of an individual. Education is dynamic and has various meanings depending on culture and context. It escalates empowerment thus this opportunity should be available to anyone.

Education is delivered in various means, the most common being in a classroom. Learning takes place, in diverse disciplines; nature, language, mathematics, science, etc. Learning however does not stop there; an individual gets to develop socially, psychologically, and emotionally in an educational set-up.

Despite its huge advantages to any individual, education faces a great disadvantage, its cost. Education has since time immemorial been a very expensive endeavor to pursue. Governments, policies, and lawmakers around the world should strive to make education free. As such, there should be no correlation between to what extent you want to be educated and your economic status.

Education nears the primary needs of a human. Yet it is baffling that quality education is only accessed to the privileged few. For example; private schools all over the world are known to provide higher quality education than their public counterparts, attendance of international ivy league schools is only left for the wealthy and can only be accessed by the rest of the population through scholarships and grants.

In conclusion, it is every individual must get formally educated. However, we need not put a price tag on education and make it a commodity accessible to those who can afford it. Education should be free for those who wish to pursue it.”

In summary

We have established that a short essay is an essay written in short. Just like any other essay, its format includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. It contains a few elements that make it unique from long essays. The most suitable writing format for a short essay is the APA style. Short essays elaborate catchy topics that are not too broad to deliver substantial detail on a subject. Now that you have all the knowledge on writing a short essay, pick a topic and try writing one by yourself.

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