Even the phrase \u201cword limit\u201d can cause panic among students. For some it\u2019s the challenge of writing enough, while others find it hard to stick within the limit given. In either case, it can lead to spending more time worrying about the length of your paper than the content!\n\n[caption id="attachment_2332" align="aligncenter" width="300"] And length isn't everything, right? Ahem.[\/caption]\n\nBut why do college papers come with set word limits? And what should you do to ensure you don't write too much or too little?\nWhy Have a Word Limit?\nThere are two main reasons that academic papers usually come with a word limit:\n\n \tFairness\nIt\u2019s impossible to grade two papers of vastly different lengths (e.g., 20,000 compared to 2,000 words) on the same scale. The word limit makes sure that everyone taking the same class knows what is expected of them.\n \tCommunication Skills\nAs well as testing your knowledge, college papers are about communicating clearly and concisely. Setting a word limit forces you to consider what you\u2019re saying more carefully, helping you to develop your writing skills.\n\nSticking to the word limit is, therefore, part of being a good academic, since being a long way over or under could suggest you've misjudged the scope of the essay topic or that you\u2019re having trouble communicating your ideas.\nHow to Stick to the Word Limit\nAlthough many colleges give you roughly 10% leeway on the word limit, you should aim for your finished paper to be as close to the suggested word count as possible. If you find yourself writing too much, you can reduce the word count by:\n\n \tEditing out repetition, redundant words and padding phrases\n \tCutting down long or unnecessary quotations\n \tReducing the number of examples or case studies used (if you\u2019ve included several)\n \tUsing the active voice instead of the passive voice\n\nMore generally, you should re-read your work and eliminate anything that isn\u2019t directly related to the question you\u2019re answering. As well as helping you stick to the word limit, this will make your work more focused, which could boost your grades.\nHow to Increase Your Word Count\nIf you\u2019re struggling to write enough, the temptation might be to add padding phrases like \u201cin my opinion\u201d or long block quotations until you hit the minimum word count. But this will simply detract from the clarity of your writing.\n\nInstead, the answer is usually to go back over your work and look for things that could be improved with a little additional attention. This might involve:\n\n \tAddressing anything from your essay question that you\u2019ve overlooked\n \tAdding illustrative examples to support a point\n \tConsidering different sources and views on the same issue\n \tUsing short quotations as evidence for your arguments\n\nMoreover, whether you\u2019ve written too much or too little, getting someone else to read your work and offer feedback is a fantastic idea (especially if you ask a professional for help). This will help you to identify areas that could be expanded or cut in the next draft, so eventually you should be able to get your essay to the required length.