Length of the Paper

Papers should be at least five typed, double-spaced pages. Your unit professor will discuss the length of papers with you in more detail. You control the length of the paper through your choice of topic and thesis statement. Your paper must be long enough to defend your position thoroughly; on the other hand, none of us is interested in reading a paper padded with irrelevant materials and consisting exclusively of nineteen-syllable words chosen to impress rather than to communicate.

If you choose a topic/thesis that is too broad, you will either have to write several volumes to defend your thesis adequately or be forced to give up on the topic/thesis and change to a more restricted thesis. Do not worry that a restricted topic or thesis will not give you enough to say. If you really “dig in” to the task of proving your thesis statement and the thesis is truly arguable, there will be more than enough to write. Your editing group will usually have some suggestions for points which require further clarification, so the second draft often turns out to be longer than the first.

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