Word counts per page?

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Word counts per page?

Post by Kwiltnwriter » March 12th, 2010, 7:02 am

I keep seeing the average word count per page is 250, but when looking at my own works (Arial font, 12 pt.) I get an average of 500! So why do people say 250, and how do I base words counts vs. page counts in the proper perspective?

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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by Tycoon » March 12th, 2010, 7:51 am


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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by paravil » March 12th, 2010, 9:32 am

And Arial is a small font compared to your standard Times New Roman. The number would be skewed the other way if you wrote in a font like Courier New, which is a bigger font.

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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by maybegenius » March 12th, 2010, 4:25 pm

Tycoon wrote:double-spaced?
Yes, it is typically referring to double-spaced.
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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by gonzo2802 » March 12th, 2010, 4:57 pm

I believe, generally speaking, when people talk about 250 words per page they are referring to the average number of words printed on a finished, type-set book page, ready for publication.

For those of us just typing away on our computers, there is an endless variance to that number. If, for your rough draft, you prefer to leave the ms single spaced, you're going to get a lot more words than you would double spacing. As paravil mentioned, the font type alone can have a huge impact on the number of words per page. Not to mention, if your characters are holding a conversation for the whole page, its bound to have less words than a more descriptive set of paragraphs will.

Bottom line, I guess, is it really doesn't matter how many words fit on a page. Unless you are using a typewritter still, or your writing program doesn't support its own word counter, go by whatever MS Word (or similar program) tells you.

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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by craig » March 14th, 2010, 10:23 pm

I find that in standard manuscript formatting, I average around 250 words per page. Standard manuscript formatting, from what I've read, means Courier or Courier New font in size 12 and double spaced.

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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by aspiring_x » March 15th, 2010, 12:13 am

Nathan has a post on standard manuscript formatting here...
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/02 ... cript.html
he says that the 250 words per page thing is a bit outdated, but i guess you could use it as a bit of a rough guide. afterall, rough guides are handy if you get attacked by a pack of wolves.

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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by bcomet » March 15th, 2010, 12:22 am

At 250 words per page, my fantasy novel is 115,000 words.

At word count, it is 130,000 words.

But so many words are doubled, when they are really signifying one name, like, for instance first and last names.

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Re: Word counts per page?

Post by polymath » March 15th, 2010, 1:08 am

Standard Manuscript Format is a model used by publishers and typesetters to gauge the cost of paper publication. SMF provides a volume approximation, not a linear measurement. Typesetters' word count is essentially a count of the number of idealized words that fit in an idealized bucket.

The basic formula counts a full manuscript page in a twelve-point monospaced typeface, preferably slab-serifed like the Courier family, as 250 words, regardless of the actual word count. A page of SMF is a matrix of sixty-five columns and twenty-five rows. A glyph occupies one cell, be it a letter, a symbol, a punctuation mark, or a word space. An indent occupies five cells. A hard return truncates a row. An empty line consumes a row. And so on.

One hundred manuscript pages at a glance is 25,000 words. Minus half page sinks for chapter openings, minus partial pages at the ends of chapters, plus frontmatter, plus backmatter yields a paper publication page count that can then be used for estimating production costs.

The SMF model doesn't work in proportional typefaces like Times New Roman because any given row may have significantly less, usually more cells due to automatic glyph kerning algorithms. Proportional typeface pages tend to have more idealized words than SMF pages. Manuscripts in proportional typefaces tend to vary widely in overall volume too, and therefore, can't be used to estimate production costs without actually setting in a layout or converting a digital file over to SMF. In other words, once a manuscript is acquired, it will be deemed worth a house's efforts, but not until acquisition.
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