Page Requirements in Essays: The Struggle of Creativity within Boundaries

Encountering word minimums or restraints when assigned to write a creative papers is not an uncommon occurrence. Within the academic sphere, writing papers with certain page requirements is a way to not only offer clarity for the student to know the extent of which they should elaborate on their topic, but to offer a means of keeping the different essays produced among a variety of students at similar lengths. Word maximums/minimums are a necessity in order to offer clarity for not only students, but the teachers that have to evaluate the quality of the work and if it met the standards for the assignment.


In other ways, word limits/minimums can be viewed as a necessary evil. When an individual engages in the process of writing a paper, there are various components that they will need to consider. One of the most stressful parts of writing a paper for some students is often the page requirement. From my personal experience, I know that there is a very different type of anxiety that is provoked from a 10 page paper compared to a 4-5 page paper. The very nature of page requirements when writing a creative piece can cause students to feel like they either need to hold back on their ideas or add “fluff” to their points in order to satisfy these arbitrary requirements. In my academic career, I have struggled with formatting my essays in a particular way to be able to efficiently meet page requirements. Some teachers have advised that there should be certain ratios for the number of words in introductions and body paragraphs when taking to account the length of a paper. As a student, these boundaries often inhibit my ability to be creative when I write. There has always been a certain pressure that I cannot keep out of my mind when writing a paper because I am unable to forget that I must say what I need to say within the boundaries of word requirements.


Word requirements are indeed needed when assigning papers to multiple individuals, as seen most commonly in classroom settings. Some people would write about a topic for 2 pages while others would interpret the assignment to need 10 pages or more. In order to keep the amount of work each individual puts into the same assignment fair, the word count must come into play. As much as it can be a burden to write within limits, at the end of the day it is necessary when writing academic papers. Recently when I was assigned to write a paper that had the requirement of being 2 pages single spaced, I was genuinely thrown off. I had not previously come across this type of structure for an analytical paper before in college. I began to feel quite anxious that I would not properly get my point across within these new boundaries and might not meet the expectations of my professor. This nervous feeling provoked me to question the very nature of word requirements in writing essays. I questioned how my behaviors as a writer would change if I never had to work within the parameters of a page limit/minimum. Would I be a stronger writer? Would I be a lazier or more ambitious writer ? Would I be a less anxious writer? As I pondered these possibilities, I asked some of my other English major friends how they felt about constantly dealing with word limits in their classes.


We discussed how when we are given a word maximum that it can inhibit our flow of ideas and the ability to make a clear and coherent thought. For example, if a response paper is assigned to be about 500 words, but the response needs all of the components necessary for clarity in 700 words, how does one properly condense these ideas without sacrificing quality? Contrastingly, if the response could be completed succinctly and thoroughly in 300 words, then why elaborate further when the point has already been made? In this discipline as well as in countless other subject areas, we will frequently encounter page requirements. They are a part of what is necessary for creating assignments that are given to large amounts of students. As a writer, you will encounter many obstacles that make being creative feel quite challenging. It would be odd to go through our academic careers without page requirements for papers being a key component to our writing assignments. Part of what can make writing a strenuous task is the limits that are placed on us and the limits we place on ourselves. Word minimums/maximums are simply another obstacle we will encounter and must conquer as writers.  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.