A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write an Excellent Short Essay

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Writing an essay is one of the challenging tasks to deal with. In general, essays are of different types and formats. Sometimes, you will be asked to write essays of long formats and at certain times you will be asked to write short essays. When it comes to writing long essays, you will have the privilege to open up and express yourself in a broader way. But that is not the case with the essays of the shorter format. In short essays, you will have to convey the important points concisely.

As the entire content should be restricted within a minimum word count, short essays are tough to craft when compared to long essays. Do you know how to write a short essay? If you are unaware, then continue reading this blog post and get the necessary tips and the steps for writing a brilliant short essay.

What is an Essay?

Before we dive into the definition of short essay, first let us understand what an essay is.

An essay is a piece of writing that focuses on any single topic. Often, it is written to express your own opinions or arguments about any topic. On a high level, the essays are classified as formal and informal. The formal essays mainly deal with the topics that are related to academics, business, or any serious issues. But on the other hand, informal essays are purely written in a casual tone, and it relies more on humor, self-revelation, cool style, etc.

The main purpose of an essay is to inform your readers about your ideas on a certain subject. Through essay writing, you can persuade, educate and entertain your readers. The essays can be argumentative, persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive.

Based on the length, the essays are divided into short and long essays. In long essays, you can completely express your thoughts on a topic. But in short essays, you need to succinctly present your points.

Definition of Short Essay

In this section, let us look in detail at what a short essay is.

As the name suggests, a short essay is an essay of shorter length. In short essays, you need to cover maximum details by using minimum words. Both the long and short essays follow a similar set of guidelines. But the main difference between them is the length.

In simple terms, the short essay or brief essay is defined by its length and the depth of ideas presented in it. As the word count is limited, when writing short essays, you should make sure to put in the right words and ideas. The topic should be catchy and the ideas should be clear from the beginning till the end. In a limited-word essay, you can respond to a question or share your opinion on any topic.

The Length of a Short Essay

How long should be a short essay? In general, a short essay should be a minimum of half a page. If you work single-spaced, it can be a maximum of one page. For double-spaced, you can go up to a maximum of 2 pages.

The maximum word limit for a short essay is 400 words. If it is needed for the topic, you can extend the total word count to 500.

Characteristics of a Short Essay

A short essay should possess the following major characteristics.

  • Accuracy
  • Brevity
  • Clarity
  • Scope

When writing a short essay, adopt clarity and precision. Using simple sentences is one of the best approaches to attract the readers and stay within the limited word count. Each sentence you write in a short essay should be accurate and succinct. No matter what your essay theme or topic is, try to provide all the important information that a general reader requires. The essay should never deviate from the topic. It should contain details relevant to the topic from reliable sources.

Guidelines for Writing a Short Essay

Listed below are the important guidelines you should follow while writing a short essay.

  • The essay should be approximately written within 400 to 500 words.
  • The page length of the short essay should be 1 or 2 depending on the spacing between the lines.
  • The essay should answer a question or addresses the assigned topic.
  • The essays should be precise and to the point.
  • The essay should be written as per the standard format that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • The introduction and conclusion should not be more than one paragraph. The body paragraphs count should depend on the essay topic.

Short Essay Format and Structure

The main feature of a short essay is to write down the arguments or ideas using limited words. But when crafting a short essay, be specific to follow a standard essay structure. The short essay can be written as per the 5-paragraph structure that includes 1 introduction paragraph, 3 body paragraphs, and 1 conclusion paragraph.


It is the opening part of a short essay. In a short essay, you can have one introductory paragraph and not more than that. The introduction is the only way to grab the reader’s attention. Hence, make sure to write it in a way to develop the reader’s interest. The introduction section should clearly define the topic to be addressed in the essay. The entire introduction paragraph should be catchy, concise, and informative.

The beginning sentence of the introduction paragraph should claim the urgency of the topic that is worth reading. On the whole, the entire paragraph should focus on the main problem. The paragraph should end with a precise statement. The statement can be debatable and it should induce the opponents to raise arguments on your issue.


This is the important section of a short essay. Here, all the major points and their supporting facts or evidence should be presented. To the maximum, you can have 3 body paragraphs. But in the first paragraph, be sure to put the strongest argument with the appropriate facts.

When writing the body paragraphs, maintain the flow of your narration. The evidence you include in this section should contain quotations. Also, make sure to cite that evidence according to your formatting requirements. Most importantly, use linking words and conjunctions to make your text cohesive.


This is the final paragraph of the essay. It should focus on the overall results. In a short essay, the conclusion should be one paragraph long. Typically, this section is not a summary, but here you should close the question focused on the introduction paragraph. Remember, in the conclusion paragraph, you should reveal how the ideas presented in the body paragraphs support the statement in the introductory paragraph.

The ultimate aim of the conclusion paragraph is to provide a new view of the subject to the readers. The last sentence of the conclusion should satisfy the readers.

How to Write a Short Essay

Till now, we saw the definition of a short essay and its structure. Next, let us focus on the components of a short essay. For long essays, you have the freedom to express your ideas in a wider space. In short essays, for raising an argument, you don’t have much space. You need to be precise with your words in short essays.

Steps for Writing a Short Essay

Discussed below are the important steps you should follow to write a brilliant short essay.

  1. Read the essay prompt carefully and identify the topic.
  2. Identify an arguable point for your essay.
  3. Research and gather necessary information relevant to the topic by referring to credible sources.
  4. Sketch an outline with the ideas gathered.
  5. Prepare a convincing thesis statement.
  6. Compose the essay with three sections- introduction, body, and conclusion.
  7. In the body paragraphs, to strengthen the claims include supporting evidence from research sources.
  8. Ask someone to read your first draft and receive feedback.
  9. Modify your content and rectify all the errors in it as per the feedback you have received.
  10. Double-check or revise the final draft before submission.

Short Essay Components

Mentioned below are important components of a limited-word essay.


The length is the significant component in a short essay. You can’t go beyond the limited word count. If you use too many words, then it will be considered a long essay. Hence, to maintain the length, first prepare an outline and then work on it. Also, identify the major points that support your argument.

Thesis Statement

A short essay is mainly guided by a thesis statement. The essay length commonly defines where to place the thesis statement. If the essay length is very short, you can include the thesis statement after the introductory line. In certain cases, the thesis statement is used as an introductory statement. The main purpose of a thesis statement is to inform the readers what the essay is all about. The thesis statement can be argumentative or explanatory.


It is important to make note of how to divide the entire essay. The essay can be organized into 3 parts- introduction, body, and conclusion. In a short essay, both the introduction and conclusion are important. For short essays, it is enough to have one introduction and one conclusion section.

Mainly, the introduction paragraph should introduce the essay topic to the readers. The thesis statement should be placed only in the introduction section. The entire introduction part should be catchy to attract the readers. Also, by reading the introduction, the readers should easily get your point.

The body part can have 2 or 3 paragraphs depending on your essay theme or topic. Each paragraph in a body section should focus on one specific point. There should be proper transitions and a smooth flow between each paragraph.

The conclusion section should not only sum up the whole argument but should also elevate the whole ideas presented in the essay. The ideas or arguments discussed in the essay should be logical.

The essay should be flawless. Hence, after writing the essay, proofread it. Check for grammar, spelling, and logical errors in the essay and rectify them, if there are any. Never skip revision before submitting your final draft.

Tips for Writing a Short Essay

Tips for Writing a Short Essay

Essay Writing is a common task the students of high school and college face in their scholarly life. But the task becomes too challenging when you are asked to prepare a short essay. To write a short essay, more skills and practice are required. Some common short essay types include college application essays, 200-word essays, 500-word essays, etc. While writing a short essay, you may gain plenty of ideas. Out of all those ideas, you should pick the best idea.

Here are a few important tips you should keep in mind while writing a short essay.

Select your topic carefully

Before you begin your essay writing process, read the essay prompt carefully. In the prompt, underline important points or circle the main question. From the essay prompt, carefully find out the question you want to deal with in your essay. At times, some students will fail to understand the topic in a hurry and will end up preparing an essay on any wrong topic. So, never do that mistake. Be careful when selecting your essay topic. If you have any doubt regarding the essay question, then immediately reach out to your instructor and clarify it.

Narrow down your argument

For writing a short essay, a good topic is what you need first. In general, the essay theme will be wide, and you can’t discuss all the major points in a limited word essay. Hence, you should narrow down the theme and pick any single topic for writing. Say, for example, if you are asked to write a short essay on ‘Tragedy in Shakespeare’s plays’, then what would you do? The topic is too vast, and you can’t cover everything in a short essay. So, you should perform deep research on the different plays of Shakespeare and bring out the list of all the plays with tragic elements. Then, from that list, you should pick a single tragedy topic for your essay. For instance, you can choose to write a short essay on the topic ‘Tragedy of Hamlet’.

Use credible sources to gather information

Information is necessary for writing an essay. Your chance of getting good scores will increase if you use information from reliable sources. So, based on your topic, refer the credible sources for gathering information. Prefer to check the websites that end with .gov or .edu. Only a few websites will have unbiased information. Hence, make sure to refer only to the authorized websites that have credible and unbiased information. For example, if you are asked to write a short essay on a health topic, then you can gather information from the official website of the World Health Organization (WHO). Never use blogs, random articles, or any least reliable sources.

Be specific about the usage of words

The words give life to an essay. If your words are less expressive, then you can’t impress your readers. Also, you may not get the desired grade. Hence, you need to choose your words carefully. Particularly, students from non-English backgrounds should give a high level of importance to the words they use in the short essay. Along with words, the transitions and vocabulary should also be focused on. The transitions are nothing but the words that link two paragraphs. For a smooth flow of narration, linking words can be used. When writing a short essay, always use words that express the idea clearly. Some students in a hurry will ignore the usage of words. Never make such mistakes. Always choose to use the correct words, phrases, and proverbs.

Eliminate verbiage from the essay

For short essays, you have a limit over the word count. If you exceed the word count, then it would not make any sense. In short essays, keep the sentences short. The short sentences should explain the meaning perfectly. For better readability and to maintain the word count, remove lengthy verb phrases, adjectives, etc.

Use active voice

To present the essay succinctly, use active voice to frame the sentence. Active voice will convey the main point in a clear and crispy manner. While crafting sentences in a short essay always prefer to explain the meaning in a direct way. Using simple sentences will cut short the overall length of the essay.

Have only the relevant arguments

Usually, a passionate writer would add multiple arguments to the essay. But when it comes to writing a short essay, you need to control yourself. Only relevant and valid arguments should be included in the essay and the rest should be ignored. In particular, when weeding out the irrelevant points, never remove the convincing points mistakenly. If you omit the important arguments or points, then your essay will lose its importance.

Final Words

We hope you are now clear about how to write a short essay. By following all the tips mentioned in this blog post, you can definitely come up with a brilliant piece of writing. No matter what your essay topic is, be focused and write a short essay without crossing the word limit.

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