How long?

In teaching writing,  I often am asked about the typical lengths of written pieces. “How long should my sentences be?” “How many words can I put in a presentation?” Here are a few of the most common details for easy reference.

Generally, people speak at a speed of about 200 words per minute. Most native speakers will read at a speed of about 500 words per minute. Most ESL students will read at the same speed they speak.

One page of text, single-spaced, in a 12-point font, is about 500 words. One page, written by hand, will be between 200 or 300 words.

Most paragraphs have between 50 and 200 words in them. Most paragraphs have less than nine lines.

A paragraph contains only one idea, but several pieces of supporting detail.

Most sentences will be short or medium-length. Long sentences are less common.

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