If you want to know how many words are in a paragraph, you should start by breaking it down. For example, how many sentences make up an average paragraph? What is the best paragraph length for what you are about to write? Short paragraphs are often best for fiction writing, commercial writing, and journalism, while academic writing is far wordier. This will affect the word count in a paragraph.
Word count is not a set-in-stone requirement for each new paragraph you write, and there is no hard and fast rule as far as how many words or sentences a paragraph must be. However, there is a way to calculate an average, and this article will explain it to you.
The Paragraph Explained
A paragraph is just a group of sentences that generally begins with a topic sentence followed by supporting sentences to explain the topic. Then, it ends with a concluding statement that ties all the sentences together. Ideally, you should be able to read the first and last sentence of a paragraph and understand the entire idea. If you cannot understand it, it is not a good paragraph in terms of structure. Each paragraph should introduce one idea.
How Long Is a Paragraph?
The general rule of thumb for a paragraph’s length is five to eight sentences. However, you can also find longer paragraphs in all sorts of texts. In addition to long paragraphs, there are also short paragraphs— even one-sentence paragraphs designed to grab the reader’s attention. Both long and short paragraphs can create a good paragraph, as long as the content can grab and keep the reader’s attention.
How Many Words in a Sentence?
If you wanted to break down the word count, it might be beneficial to know that standard sentences are 15–20 words long. The sentence you just read was 22 words long. However, the second sentence in this paragraph is nine words. The third is ten words. Depending upon how detailed the supporting sentences are, you will have sentences of varying lengths in each paragraph, which will give you a standard average.
In the above paragraph, the average word count per sentence is 15 words, yet none of the sentences is the same length.
What Type of Writing Are You Doing?
To calculate the average words in a paragraph, you need to know what sort of writing you want to do. Different styles mean different word counts in literature. We will now look at some of the different types of writing and the typical length and type of paragraph that you would find in each writing style.
Academic writing, which includes essays, is expected to have longer paragraphs because the goal is usually to inform or educate the reader. While you should not spend the bulk of your effort counting words, you will notice that the length of the paragraphs is substantially more extensive than that of fiction writing or commercial writing when creating this sort of content.
How Long Should a Paragraph Be in an Essay?
If you are writing an essay, it is likely academic. Standard paragraph length or the average number of words in a paragraph is 100–200 words. One paragraph typically gives a lot of information, and if one word is missing from an explanation of a new idea or big chunks of information are missing, the reader’s eyes will begin to wander, lose their interest, and you will fail the essay.
Commercial writers typically write in short sentences. The number of words in a paragraph of commercial writing is much lower than that of academic or fiction writing. If you keep the paragraph short, you stand a better chance of selling a product by keeping the reader engaged and focused on your idea. Most consumers decide pretty quickly whether or not they are interested in a product. Too many words are boring. The magic formula to keep the readers’ attention is three to four paragraphs.
This is the perfect length because you can emphasize the primary selling points without burdening the consumer, without seeming too pushy with several dry information. This also pertains to blog writers—keep the paragraphs of each blog post short, and you will keep the readers on your page engaged and focused.
When to Start a New Paragraph
When does the reader expect the writer to start a new paragraph? In any type of literature, the answer is the same.
Any time you start a new idea, answer a new question, have a new comment to add or point to make, create a new paragraph. The golden rule on when to start a new paragraph across all styles and genres is that new ideas get their paragraph. Readers do not want to be bombarded with new information in one paragraph. Maintain one point in each paragraph of your blog, article, essay, or piece, and when concluding the point, end the paragraph and start anew.
There are no steadfast rules in English literature because it captures ideas on paper and, therefore, is fairly creative, even when information-based. One rule, however, is always to create a new paragraph for every new idea, comment, example, or statement.
Transitional words exist so that there is a good flow between paragraphs. When telling a story or giving information, it can seem disjointed and clunky if you do not use transitions in your work. Transitions include words, such as therefore, nevertheless, and hence. These are words that link the two paragraphs together and continue with the general topic of the piece.
While transitions are not steadfast rules in English literature, teachers often require students in schools, courses, and workshops to ensure that they understand how to link paragraphs together by topic and relevance.