Should I Indent my Paragraphs in IELTS Writing?

Many students ask me if they should indent the first sentence in a paragraph for IELTS writing task 1 and task 2. Let me explain …

In the old days, before the days when most people used computers, it was common to leave a space at the start of each paragraph. This helped the reader to know which sentence is part of a new paragraph and which is not. Nowadays, however, we don’t use this practice.

Currently, when writing by hand or typing on computers, you should leave one line empty between each paragraph rather than indenting. So, when you write your IELTS essays or your writing task 1, just start your sentences at the beginning of the line and when you have a new paragraph, miss one line.

Leaving one empty line between paragraphs is the easiest way for examiners to see your paragraphs. If the examiner can’t see your paragraphs, you will get a lower score because 25% of your marks (Coherence & Cohesion) relates to the use of paragraphs.

Can I indent and leave a line between paragraphs?

It is not necessary. Just aim to leave one line empty and don’t indent.

Will I lose marks if I indent my paragraphs?

No. It’s not wrong to indent but it’s better to leave one line empty instead. The key is making your paragraphs very clear for the examiner and having one empty line is much clearer.

Do I need paragraphs?

Yes, you need paragraphs. Your score will be reduced if you don’t use paragraphs.

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  1. Hii Liz,
    The words in the bracket are counted?

  2. Hi Liz,

    I write using cursive letters, is it okay to write in alternate lines.

    • You should leave one line empty between paragraphs only – this is to make paragraphs clear and easy to see. You should not leave an empty line between each alternate line – that would not help the examiner. It is fine to use any type of handwriting you want as long as it is clear for the examiner to read.

  3. Srbhagat says

    Is it ohk to double space your work while writing task 2, like leave one line after writing each line, throughout the essay. And secondly can I do both indent and leave a line when the new paragraph begins.

  4. Thanks for this clarification about leaving out indentations.It was very helpful

  5. Thankyou for everything Liz 🙂

  6. God bless you our great teacher.

  7. is it the same to leave an empty line between paragraphs in writing task 1

  8. Dear Ms. Liz,

    Thank you so much for all of your guidance. You are really a great mentor and teacher. I gave my test in 2016 and got 6 band in writing without preparation. I was very angry on British Council on deducting my scores. But I was dumb because I did not do the preparations and secondly I did not know how I was going to be evaluated. After watching your video now I am in surprise, how I got 6 band in writing as I did not care about paragraphs.

    I am praying for you health. INSHA’Allah, you will be healthy soon and start guiding us all again.

    Sher Afghan

    • To get band 6 without paragraphs shows that you did other things correctly. It is important to understand how the test is marked before you book it. Well done for getting 6 🙂

  9. Megan Stevens says

    Thanks for writing this article.

    Are there blank sheets provided during the IELTS writing test to write rough notes for the essay? Also, do you think that writing essay on notes sheet first and then copying it to answer sheet is a good idea?

  10. Hello Liz,

    I would like to apologise since this has been brought up previously, but I feel the answer to the question I am going to ask is still unclear (I am speaking on my behalf here, but I assume others will have the same doubt). As you have mentioned in your post, it is not strictly necessary to indent the various sections of your written essay, but it is not compulsory to leave a blank line between your paragraphs, either. What if I write an essay with no obvious separation between paragraphs (no blank lines or indentation), but in such a way that the examiner recognises that there is a thought-out structure and that the ideas are organized logically?

    To make this simpler, I guess what I am really asking is: do paragraphs need to be some sort of physical – identifiable entity, or can they be recognised by an examiner in the candidate’s writing through his/her writing style even with no marks that render them obvious to the eye?

    I hope this makes things clear.

    • If the examiner can’t easily see your paragraphs, you will be marked down. Paragraphs and linking count for 25% of your marks. Make your paragraphs as clear as possible.

  11. Can I give a personal experience or example in task 2 ?

    • An IELTS essay is a formal essay. This means avoid writing about your family or friends and, instead, give examples of “people ..”

  12. Can I use alternate lines in writing task and leave 2 lines before new paragraph.

  13. Hi liz
    First I would really thank you for your good job this blog is magnificent
    In my ielts writing test I didn’t leave full blank lines between paragraphs but I made sure to leave at least half of the last line in each paragraph blank
    In my opinion, the paragraphs ate clear but will I get penalized for not leaving a full blank line?

  14. Hy Liz, I have a question you have said in a video that are 5 different essay that we can have for WT2 but you only have 3 from what I can see is that correct ? Can you please tell me where are those other 2 ?

    • I haven’t made the other lessons yet. They won’t be ready until next year. The three lessons shown will give you a huge insight into the right techniques to use.

      • I have a big thank you for them are really helpful I have already learn them what should I do about the others ? You are explaining them very very well. On the internet you can find only things that are rather confusing and fake then helpful .

  15. Abdul Basit says

    Can we use computer for writing module instead of writing by hand ? If yes then how I demand for this ?

    • At present IELTS tests are not done through computer.

      • Now, IELTS tests are done through the computer on selective test centers but you have to solve L, R, W on computer. You can not choose to solve one module on computer and remaining on the paper.

  16. Avinash Yadav says

    If I wanna send you my essay for evaluation,how can I send?

  17. Subhangi says

    Ma’m I wasn’t aware of paragraphs so I wrote in all one flow considerably more than the least word count. I’m pretty sure I used a vast vocabulary and didn’t repeat the words from question. Do you reckon I’ll get more than 7?

    • Band scores can not be predicted but you will lose marks for not having paragraphs.

      • If I forgot to leave one line between each paragraph. How much will it influence the band score?I mean will it drop to 6 if I did so even if I wrote pretty fine essay?

  18. Thanks a lot.
    You’ve answered all the questions in my mind.

  19. hi Liz,
    A technical question. Please make it clear to the students.
    Imagine your last word of your second paragraph goes at the end of the line of the first page. To begin the third paragraph at the back of the page, student should technically start from the first line. In this case, how the examiner (reader) recognize that the writer has started the third paragraph?
    Thank you,

    • If you are worried about this, you can write “PTO” – this means Please Turn Over. It is what we write when we are worried someone won’t see the writing on the back of the sheet. However, examiners will always check the back.

  20. How many papers are provided for IELTS writing task2?

  21. Liz is it possible to tell what you want tell in task 2 with simple vocab . I have seen the writings of some 9 band scorers and their writing was not so complex but on the other hand the ones with 8 or 7.5 has written in a very complex manner and it was difficult to understand their paragraphs .

    • You can see from my model essays which are estimated at band 9 that accuracy is much more important than trying to fill your essay with impressive vocabulary. Never try to use language which is above your own level. Stick at your own level and make it accurate – that will help you more. See this page to find my model essays as well as more tips:

  22. I used to write in every other line. Can I indent in the beginning of each paragraph and leave two lines between paragraphs to make it obvious.

  23. Hello, Ms.Liz. I have a question. Do you have writing correction service for IELTS learners. I usually try to practice writing, but no one checks it, so i don’t know whether my writing is satisfactory or there are any mistakes.

  24. hi madam
    i have taken date for the ielts and i have left 30 days for preparation so can you send me the link for all skill except listening because i am getting 7.5 bands in that and in reading i am not getting what i am excepting for , in speaking i cannot speak for 2 minute in cue card, and in writing how can i improve my vocab. so please send me some link for all skill. and also thanks for the videos in youtube which you have posted and thanks in send me on my email id is

    • You can find all the main pages for each part of the test in the page above. You can find over 300 pages to tips and model answers etc.

  25. Harinder Singh says

    At that time my level is 5 bands. But I want 7 bands. So what things or how much work I should to do in a day. I just have 2 months. Plese tell me what should I do at home for reach my best ielts score.

    • To get band 7, you must have band 7 English. Is your English a high level? Start reading all my main pages for IELTS on this blog to learn and develop.

  26. Thanks for the info…

  27. it’s really helpful, thank you so much

  28. Dama Amarnadh says

    Hello Liz !

    Could I write whole the word in capital letters in the part of listening sections ?

  29. Hi Liz,
    U r doing a great job. Ur tips r always useful to us.

  30. Basim Hussien Alotoom says

    What if I leave 2 lines between paragraphs in case I want to write more?

    • Sure, you could do that if you want but it can be confusing for the examiner. Always plan your essay before you start writing so that you know exactly what you want to write in your paragraphs.

  31. Barkat Khan says

    Hi Liz!
    Thank you as always. You are the typical IELTS teacher, I would recommend to every one.
    Suppose, I prefer to use indention as well as leaving empty single line, then what you think, reflection?
    My test on coming 20th-August-2016 (Pakistan), please suggest me some quick trick to use my these 10 days more efficient?

    Barkat Khan

    • It’s up to you but it really isn’t necessary and it might look a bit strange.

    • Hey,goodluck to you! My friend will also have her exam this coming aug 20. I have taken the exam last month and I got 6.5 in writing. What I could suggest (that I should have done during the exam) is PLAN your topic and examples for each paragraph. What happened to me was I just let ideas come into my mind WHILE I am writing. And it is such a bad idea. So, take time to think about what examples(3) you will discuss in each paragraph and develop it nicely.

    • No indentions. Leave a space for each paragraph. Perfect.

  32. Thank you Liz for all your tips. I hope you are always healthy and happy! 🙂

  33. Prisca Bella says

    Thank you, Liz, for the information on paragraphing and more. Bless you.

  34. Chastey Tony says

    Helped*** sorry

  35. Chastey Tony says

    Hi Liz
    Hi everyone

    I took my IELTS test on the 7th of May 2016 and got an overall band score of 7.5 with no individual band score less than 7

    Pls I strongly advice that u paragraph ur essays 1&2 by simply leaving a line. Be advised also not to indent ur paragraphs at all. I scored 7.5 in writing and I think that the way I fixed my paragraphs help my score. It was my first attempt at IELTS by the way.

    • A great score. Well done! Thanks for sharing your experience. Anyone else think the same?

    • I haveto improve my base english then I get 7 socer for ielts .could you help me ?l have been using this link but before I need to improve my base english and I dobt know how to improve them??thanx

  36. You’re one of my best tutors, this information I was thinking of it because I noticed some examples do it, so thanks a million for making it so easy, God bless you.
    by the way, my test will be on Aug 20th

  37. Ibraheem Rasheed says

    Many thanks fir this!
    My area of concern is mostly this aspect of writing. Hope to get more tips

  38. I just read this article and I now know what mistake I have made from my last IELTS writing exam. I indented the line of very paragraph and did not leave a space in between paragraphs. Thanks for the information.

    • It’s not wrong to indent. You won’t lose marks because you indent. But you will lose marks if the examiner can’t see your paragraphs very clearly which is why leaving an empty line is better.

  39. Thanks Liz for your tip.Its really new to me .

  40. Hai Liz, I want to know about academic writing task I can write this.

  41. Thanks Liz for your great help us.

  42. You are one of the great teachers in the world. It seems to me so simple, but it is really helpful for me. Thanks a million times.

  43. Hi Liz,
    nice to know.
    Thank you.

    anyway, have you got answers collection of ielts speaking part ?

  44. It’s really help me especially last practices. I improved little bit thank a lot ?

  45. It is really helpful article.
    You are amazing (:

  46. Thank you for this important information
    My exam on 20th of August

  47. Thank you, This will help me a lot.

  48. Thank you Liz! You are doing such a great job!!!

  49. Thanks Liz, bless you

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