Word count per page standard?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Daniel Hetberg, Feb 23, 2007.

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    Daniel Hetberg

    Daniel Hetberg Reader of Books

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    What's a usual word count per page in a published book? From my experience with LaTeX, I know that a certain amount of characters per line is most pleasing to the eye and is hence used very consistently in publishing.

    Is there also something like a standard word count per page? Line count per page? Font size with respect to page size?
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    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    Do you mean as in standard submission guidelines, or typical for published books, etc.?
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    Daniel Hetberg

    Daniel Hetberg Reader of Books

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    I had published books in mind, but actually both would be interesting.
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    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    Standard for submission guidelines is generally 10 words per line, 25 lines per page. For published books... there are too many factors: typeface used ,size of book (A-format, B-format, trade, etc.), header, footer, leading...
  5.  
    Daniel Hetberg

    Daniel Hetberg Reader of Books

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    Thanks Ian!

    The 10 words per line are taken on average, I trust? Like, the average english word has 5-6 characters, plus one space or punctuation, leading to 60-70 characters per line?
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    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    That's pretty much it. If you google, you'll find a variety of techniques for calculating the word count of a manuscript. Exact word counts, as generated by word-processing programs, are frowned on.
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    Stormpirate

    Stormpirate Sailing the stormy seas..

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    How is that so? Are they not accurate?
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    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    No, they're accurate. But the word count is used for page layouts, and the standard formula is more useful.
  9.  
    Daniel Hetberg

    Daniel Hetberg Reader of Books

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    I don't get that last point. The word count is obviously important to determine the number of pages needed etc., wouldn't I want it to be as precise as possible, as provided by a word processor?
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    roddglenn

    roddglenn Colonial Marine

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    For submissions - Around 10-12 words per line and 24 lines per page based on the preferred double-spaced 12 point font that agents and publishers prefer.

    The precise wordcount isn't important just a close estimate. The exact wordcount on Word isn't really frowned upon, they just are content with the formula estimate.
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    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    As I understood it, the formula estimate gave a better indication for layout purposes, whereas the exact word count could be misleading because "words" could be any number of letters long -- ie. not just standardised six-letter strings.
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Ian, I think you are right. Editors have told me that someone in the production department always has to do a word count according to a special formula for the layout.

    So while I don't think anyone actually frowns on an exact word count at the top of the first page, it's basically irrelevant. Until the book goes into production, an approximation is all they need, and whatever you tell them, they'll round it off anyway.
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Daniel, one other point: because of the cost of printing, some publishers will simply cram as many words as possible on the page in tiny fonts, to keep the book's page-count down and save money. I've seen epic fantasy mass-market paperbacks that almost needed a magnifying glass to read them, after they've been re-set from perfectly readable hardbacks or trade paperbacks...
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    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    At Ace, they used to be known for cramming as many words into as small a space as possible. Some of my early books were published at 42 lines to the page -- and this for books that were only a little over 100,000 words.
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Still happens with some companies, Teresa, as I'm sure you know!

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