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Those Papers – How Long to Write 5 Page Paper?

  • September 01, 2017
Those Papers – How Long to Write 5 Page Paper?

That pesky 5 page essay or paper may be one of the most common assignments for students. Why? Because instructors like assigning them throughout a semester, rather than one lengthy and long paper at the end of the course. They want to know if students are mastering what they should be learning in smaller chunks. It is not unusual, then, that a student may get two-three of these assignments in many courses they take. 

So, what exactly is a five-page essay? It kind of runs between an essay which is usually shorter, and a paper, which is usually longer. Still, if it’s five pages, it’s likely that you will be doing a bit of research – you will have to back up the points you make with some facts, after all. So, you can easily call it a 5 page research paper.

If you are wondering how many words is a five page essay or paper, the amount will vary only a little, depending on the font you use. It will run between 1250 and 1375 words. This means that you will have to choose a topic that is not too complex, because of your word limit. And in most cases, that topic will have to be related to the most recent one or more units of study in your course. 

Suggestion: Once you have chosen your topic, run it by your instructor or the course TA. They will be able to confirm that the topic is okay in-depth for five pages. 

Let’s unpack how you go about how to write a five page essay/paper.

How to Write a 5-Page Essay or Paper

How to Write a 5-Page Essay

In general, you’ll be using the same process for a five-page paper that you would use for longer papers. Yes, it can be tedious, and yes it doesn’t seem quite fair for such a short assignment. But if you skip steps, you’ll be sorry. Here are those steps:

  1. Get a Topic that Works

It does really matter how many words is a five-page paper when you are choosing a topic. You might have some strong opinions about climate change, but you cannot possibly cover them all in such a short work. You will have to narrow that topic to one opinion about one type of climate change issue and just address that. Here’s the process for getting 5 page essay topics that work with the example of climate change.

  • General Topic Area: Climate Change

  • Effects of Climate Change: oceans, air, agriculture, animal life, weather, etc.

  • Causes of Climate Change: CO2 emissions, methane gas, land cover, deforestation, destruction of ecosystems, etc.

  • Topic for Paper: One of the effects or causes, and only one of them.

So, pick the cause or effect that you feel most passionate about. You will be far more motivated to complete the project.

  1. Get Some Facts

Yes, your paper is short, but it can’t be full of your opinions and “rants.” You have to have some facts to back up your thesis. This calls for a bit of research.

Fortunately, because your topic is narrowed, your research will be narrower too – that’s a good thing.

Maybe you have decided to focus on the effect of climate change on the ocean temperatures. They are getting warmer, and that is affecting weather, sea life, and coastal flooding. So, get some scientific data on those three things, along with the analyses and opinions of recognized scientific experts, and you will be good to go.

  1. Develop Your Thesis Statement

Once your research is complete, you will have an idea of the main point you want to get across. Ask yourself: “What do I want my reader to understand from reading my paper?” The answer will most likely get you to your thesis statement. 

  1. Yes, You Do Need an Outline

Don’t skip this step just because your paper is short. Each of your major points needs to be addressed in a logical order. Putting together a 5 page essay outline will give you that order and will keep you on track while you write. Determining the order in which you cover your points is your option. Some start with the most compelling or important point and work down to the least. Others do just the opposite.

  1. Rough Draft, Revision, and Final Draft

Sound familiar? It should. These are the next steps. Write your rough draft from your outline, walk away from it for a while, then come back to review it and revise.

  1. Ready for the Introduction and Conclusion

Write your introduction last, after you have all of your thoughts down on paper. You want to begin with some startling fact, an anecdote, or a compelling quote to get your reader’s attention. Here’s one for ocean warming and rising: Scientists now say that Miami may be underwater before today’s children are senior citizens. That’s pretty startling and will get your reader’s attention right away.

About that Conclusion: You either want to summarize the points you made, give a call to action, or both. You can also restate your thesis in different words.

How Long Does it Take to Write a 5 Page Paper?

That depends. Sometimes, these are harder to write than a longer paper or a shorter, 5-paragraph essay. You have to be careful about the topic and about your words. You may need to re-write several times and take out unnecessary phrases to keep the length under control. If you include the research part of the five-page paper, you are looking at hours of time. 

Many students who have procrastinated try to figure out how to write a five page essay in one night. Is it possible to do it that fast? It might be, but those students will need to begin early in the evening and proceed throughout the night without any sleep. And they will be doing all of their research online, of course. And there will probably be little time for editing and revising that rough draft. The risk is that the final grade will not be anywhere near what it would have been had a student given it at least a few days.

How Many Paragraphs in a 5 Page Essay?

There is no correct answer to this question. The format really depends upon the number of points to be made and how complex they are. Obviously, the introduction and conclusion will each consume one paragraph. And each point may include more than one paragraph. 

The better question to ask is: “Can cover all of my points well within five pages?” if not, then the least important points may have to be removed. Do not think that you can simply change double-spacing to a single-spaced piece, just to get everything in. No instructor will allow that.

Getting Some Help

Writing a five page essay can be more difficult than a much longer paper. The topic has to be narrow, and the research may not be narrow enough. Choices have to be made about which and how many points to be covered. If you are really struggling with short papers, you are not alone. Lots of students use writing services for help. To find a good one, check out our writing services reviews and pick one that has a high score.