Essay Word Count: Does It Help?

Word essay made with block wooden letters next to a pile of other letters over the wooden board surface composition

An essay word counter is a great way to ensure you get to the point of your paper in both a concise, yet not too concise way.

There are times when word-count-based assignments can be limiting. But, usually, word counts are provided by instructors, media companies, and the like to encourage writers to cover topics in varying degrees of depth. If the word count you need to reach for one essay is only 1,000 words, but the word count for another essay is 5,000, then it is likely the second essay will require more detail. 

The exception to this rule is if the topic you are dealing with is very general. For example, if you were asked to write an essay on the history of the founding of the United States, keeping an essay of that magnitude to only 5,000 words would be impossible unless you kept everything very general—almost even vague. However, if you were asked to write 5,000 or more words on the history of the Fax machine, odds are you could cover it in a decent amount of detail with just that number of words.

Why an Essay Word Counter Is a Good Thing

Some professional writers do not concern themselves with word counts. They simply write as much or as little as they need to get their point across. While this is fine, even for professionals, an essay word counter is something to consider using. There are several reasons why:

  • Word Counts Relate to Reading Level: It is part of the professional writer’s job to know his or her readership. If you are an academic essay writer who produces pieces specifically for technical journals in your field or, say, literary magazines, you can write as formally as you wish. If, however, you are a writer with a more general audience or, perhaps, even a younger group of readers, you are going to want to tailor your content a bit so that they can understand your points. Essay word counters can help with this by reviewing your content and automatically telling you what the approximate reading level or the material you produced is. From there, you can decide whether or not changes need to be made. 
  • An Essay Word Counter Can Help with Grammar: Grammar is something that, for most people, can use improving. There are many artful and unique ways to say things other than the common. This does not meet your need to pad your writing or submit “purple” prose. But a simple couple of changes and the use of certain accurate synonyms can have a tremendous positive impact on your writing. 
  • An Essay Word Counter Can Let You Know Read Time: Read time is another important aspect of essays that writers sometimes ignore at their own peril. Knowing how much time your essay is going to take for someone to read is a good metric for figuring out if they will reach the end of your paper. If you know that you are writing for a publication (online or otherwise) that typically only grabs reader’s attention for about ten minutes, but your article does not reach its primary conclusion until fifteen minutes into the twenty-minute read, well then you should consider shifting some things around (or doing some deleting) so that you reach your conclusion sooner.

Now that you know how they work, you can make sure to run your work through an essay word counter before your next submission so as to check, not just the number of words you wrote, but also the reading level you are reaching, the grammar you are using, and the estimated read time.