Generally, when a student has to write an academic paper, the minimum word length is likely to be approximately 500 words long. In fact, a small essay might often be between 500 to 700 words in length and, therefore, it can be useful to know how to structure this form of essay.
Essentially, if you have been asked to write a short piece of work about a particular subject, then you may find yourself writing an academic paper this length. Of course, if you have been asked to write an in-depth research paper or dissertation, then you are unlikely to write a piece that will be so short.
Paragraphs can vary considerably in terms of how long they are. For example, it is possible to write a paragraph that is only one or two sentences long, whilst other paragraphs may be up to half a page in length, or more. However, the average paragraph is going to be approximately 100 to 150 words in length.
Therefore, an essay of 500 to 700 words is likely to contain anywhere between three and seven paragraphs. In fact, it can be appropriate to assume that you will need to write approximately four or five paragraphs.
Ultimately, 500 to 700 words is not a huge amount of space in order to discuss a subject and, therefore, you have to be careful with how much space you allot to each different section. For example, your introduction should ideally be no more than a paragraph in length. Furthermore, you are unlikely to have much more than a paragraph for the conclusion.
Therefore, if a typical 500 to 700 words academic paper will consist of four or five paragraphs on average, and you need to use one paragraph each for the introduction and conclusion sections, then it is likely to leave you with between two and three paragraphs for the body section, possibly more if the paragraphs you write are relatively short.
Sometimes it can be easier to simply write what you want to write, before cutting any unnecessary material once you are finished. However, if you do take this approach, then you do still have to keep in mind that you have a relatively strict word limit, so as to prevent you from writing thousands of words, as editing that much content down can be particularly difficult.