Word counts can be annoying and messy affairs that are put onto different pieces of work we have to do and are often used to track how far we have progressed in a project.
This isn’t a new thing and many people use them throughout their entire life, from essays in schools, to projects at college, to e-mails or articles at work.
You may not realize it, but for many different writing pieces, you will subconsciously stick to a work count.
But when you break a piece down into paragraphs, it can get a bit confusing to understand how many words you put into a paragraph.
Is there consistently a set number? Or does it change every time? In this article, we are going to look at how many words are in most paragraphs and why it changes sometimes.
What Is A Paragraph?
A paragraph is normally a block of text within a written piece of work.
If we were to take an essay for example, it would normally contain many paragraphs, with each section built upon multiple paragraphs within it.
If you look above at the introduction of this article, you will see there are two paragraphs that work together to introduce the piece.
Normally, paragraphs are used to display certain points, interests, or focuses of the article or piece of fiction.
These are then put together into a series of coherent paragraphs that are then used in conjunction to display the entire point of the piece itself.
A paragraph will often be constructed with an opening sentence to display the point.
Then – depending on the length of a paragraph – 2 to 6 other sentences will be included that further the point in more detail or provide evidence and examples.
These sentences can be quite long and abstract, that can also be full of clauses and filler. Or they can be quite short.
Once the point has been made or the focus fulfilled, the paragraph is ended, sometimes with a sentence that serves as a conclusion, after which a paragraph break is inserted and a new paragraph is begun.
How Many Words Are In A Paragraph?
The answer, truthfully, is it depends. If you were writing an essay at high school or university, then the average length of a paragraph would be between 100 and 300 words.
This is because the paragraphs in these scenarios often use references to other works, as well as their own points, to provide evidence for their hypothesis.
For internet articles, the amount of words is slightly shorter.
Usually, the word length will be dictated by the article length, with longer articles that have more in depth subjects typically having more words in them.
For shorter articles, the word count within paragraphs is also much shorter.
As such, for articles over 2500 words, you will see paragraphs of about 100 to 200 words, whereas articles below this amount will have paragraphs of 30 to 100 words.
Internet articles are not just looking to be informative about their certain subject or need as much evidence to do so, meaning they don’t need to be as long.
Instead, they are looking to give the reader the information they set out to and to make it eye-catching for them to read.
If you are writing about the best hedge trimmer of the autumn season, then you not only want to inform the reader of the best hedge trimmer, but to encourage them to buy the hedge trimmer in your article.
For a paragraph within a dialogue, like in a screenplay or within a fiction piece, the paragraph word count will depend on the dialogue you write, but will often be short.
This is because conversation – for all its depth and wittiness – is quite punchy most of the time and uses very few words.
You would be surprised at how many times ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ are the only words in a paragraph for a dialogue.
Alternatively, there are also instances where characters may monologue for extended periods, meaning that paragraphs become incredibly long.
You can see this in the theater especially, where monologues can sometimes last for pages.
As such, a dialogue’s paragraph’s word count is incredibly diverse, it can range from between 1 word to 300 words, however the usual range is between 3 and 50 words.
For paragraphs in fiction pieces, the word count can be very high indeed.
Fiction follows the same rules as nonfiction paragraphs – with a point, an exploration of the point, and the conclusion of said point – but it is a lot more fluid.
The point may be to set the scene, describing everything in it, before the paragraph is concluded and dialogue begins.
The scene may be a very descriptive one, as the writer tries to capture the imagination of the reader, and so may need many words to convey it.
On the other hand, in order to convey a punchy impact, the writer may also use one sentence of only a few words to describe something happening.
Therefore, when we talk about fiction paragraphs, they are usually around 100 to 500 words, but they can be as short as 1 word or as long as 1000 words (though this is unusual).
It is best to treat them like a dialogue, where it is dictated by the writing itself.
Why Should We Aim For Word Counts In Paragraphs?
While many people don’t consciously do this, you probably already aim for a word count in your paragraph.
It just takes the form of how big of a block you think your paragraph should be, instead of a word count.
However, this can be an unwieldy method and can lead to some writers rambling a bit too long in their text, while others are far too curt and don’t elaborate on their point well.
Generally, you should always have sentences for non-fiction that:
introduce the point, expand on it, elaborate any evidence for it, and (if you want) a conclusion statement.
For fiction, this is far more fluid, and it needs no evidence. By having a word count, it makes it easier to see where you are putting too much focus or not enough.
This is true for most pieces you will write. If you spend 50 words telling us your point, then how will you elaborate on why this is the case for your point.
Likewise, if you spend 5 words telling us your point, we may not understand what it is.
As such, having a word count, while quite annoying in most cases, can be incredibly useful to see where you are making mistakes in your paragraph construction.
Knowing your article type, knowing how the paragraph can be constructed, and knowing how many words are generally acceptable is the perfect way to write in a way that others can interpret, while keeping your writing your own.
How many words are in a paragraph depends on what type of writing the writer is doing when writing said paragraph.
The usual amount for any piece of work can range from 1 word to up to 1000 words in a single paragraph, and any amount between those two.