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March 7th, 2003, 03:27 AM
How many words per page are there in a typical published manuscript when it is printed. I'm trying to figure out how long my story is and I'm not sure about font size, spacing, etc. Words per page seems like the easiest way to calculate it. Also, if there is one correct format in terms of spacing after paragraphs I would like to know. Also for dialogue. I know you are supposed to put the dialogue down to the next line when a new person is speaking. Is that supposed to be indented the same as a paragraph each time. Is there a simple way to set this all up correctly in word so I'll actually know what it's supposed to look like when I eventually send it out. Sorry for the stupid question. I've been looking over all the books I have and they all seem different. I want to know if there is some sort of standard. :confused:

March 7th, 2003, 05:13 AM
This is a rough guide I have worked out from looking at individual publisher's submission guides. Certain publishers vary, so it is best to check before submitting to them. They also usually list the required or desired word length of pieces they are looking for. They will consider shorter or longer pieces, but they have to be better than sliced bread to get a look in...

Most publishers require manuscripts in double spacing, with no additional space between the paragraphs.

Start of each paragraph indented one tab space.

They prefer font 12 new times roman or any of the easy to read ones. Nothing fancy this can count against you.

Any passages or words you wish to be in Italics should be underlined.

Any passages or words you wish to be in Bold should have a wavy line drawn under them.

Yes, you indent the speech for each character in the same way as a paragraph. if that is the speech begins a new paragraph rather than is in the middle of, or at the end.

Is part of a two way conversation that doesn't have speech tags or the speech tags/rest of the sentence are short and you are changing from one speaker to another, or to a change that requires a new paragraph... (does that make sense?)

Each change of POV or scene must be clearly marked by either a small line of ### or *** But it must be marked.

Each chapter should start four double spaces down from the top of the page.

Start a fresh page for each chapter.

Have a title page with your name and details, the title of the work, your real name and "writers name"

Also check if the publisher requires or likes headers with the name of the piece and your details etc in.

Also check whether the publisher wants the pages numbered at the bottom or top. BUT make sure the pages are numbered! Don't number each chapter seperately.

No paragraph should be broken and taken over the page.

Each page should be printed in best print not a low dot print setting and on a single piece of paper i.e. one sided.

Manuscripts should not be stapled, clipped or bound in anyway. It is easier for the reader to read if loose. Just stick a couple of elastic bands round the manuscript.

In this format you are roughy clocking up 250 words per page. So a rough count would be 350 pages at 250 words. = 87,500 which is in the lower range of most stated required lengths for novels. ( 80,000 to 130,000 words.)

Personally I wouldn't bother about looking at the "finished product" Books are printed in various type settings and fonts.

I personally work to the "mansuscript format" I have detailed above. So that when it comes to submitting I only have to tweak the setup a little to meet the individual pubisher's requirements.

It's like anything really, whether a piece of homework or a work presentation. If you get it looking right, you are going to get better marks. Its the way of the world I suppose.

March 7th, 2003, 06:13 AM
Thanks Holbrook. That's exactly what I was looking for. I'm still a little unsure about what to do with some dialogue scenes. Is there a website that has all these rules demonstrated somewhere?

March 7th, 2003, 02:02 PM
You get a lot more words per page if you use Times New Roman compared to Courier. Courier is ugly, but especially in the US, is the most common font used for submissions.

If you use Courier 12 and setup the page so that you get 25 lines per page (and inch margins at the sides?) you should get around 250 words a page. Of course you won't always, because of dialogue etc, but publishers don't care about how many actual words there are - but how much space is used up, which is why you do the above and call it 250 a page no matter what.

Courier is better than Times New Roman because each letter takes up the same amount of space - so it's easier to calculate space used - whereas it differs in Times New Roman.

I've heard it said that if you want to use TNR and get a similar effect to Courier that you should use size 14 instead of 12.

Most publishers prefer fantasy to be big - i.e. over 100,000 words, but as Holbrook said, over 85,000 is usually acceptable.

I, Brian
March 7th, 2003, 03:31 PM
Holbrook's list is pretty good - though the change of POV be marked between these scenes (thanks for reminding me though).

The font issue is one undergoing debate - but Courier is the one to play safe with as it will be accepted pretty much anywhere. Times New Roman, however, is not necessarily preferred - agents and editors don;t want exact word counts, but approximate ones based on the average number of words a page. Courier is a mono-type (correct term?) which means that every single letter/character takes up the same space. Approximate word counts are therefore easily done. TNR is not, which means that approximate word counts cannot be done. This will irk some of the people you wish to befriend.

Margins at 1 inch, of course, as well.

March 8th, 2003, 07:43 PM
I have calculated an 'average' number of words in a few books, and it's normally about 400 words. Maybe a few more in some books.

March 9th, 2003, 06:58 AM
Average number of words on an actual book page will differ between books. Publishers who have to use the same page counts (because of production costs) for different sized books, just change the font size for example, so that even in their own books numbers can change dramatically from book to book.

March 9th, 2003, 11:28 AM
I have checked quite a few different books and they almost always have 400. Compared books from many different publishers, even norwegian ones.

March 9th, 2003, 01:09 PM
Yes, many may appear to be the same. But at the same time I know for a fact that one publisher frequently changes font size in books to get different amounts of words on to the same amount of pages (a friend works there).

In fact if you look on the book shelves you can often find huge disparities. Publishers like fantasy book to appear huge - some may use larger font if a writer underwrites. But at the same time if they have authors who write too much (thus increasing production costs) they *might* make the font smaller so that they can fit the text into an affordable paperback.

I am not saying you are wrong. I am sure that there are publishers who produce each of their books in the same way, and that there's an opitmum font and paper size for people to read. However, there will always be exceptions, and to be honest, I find it quite surprising that you've found so many to be the same.

Also, in the end, the number of words on a page in a published book doesn't really matter, because publishers do not all put the same amount of words on a page. They want to know a word count, usually based on space used rather than computer word count so that they can work out for themselves, the best way to produce your book, and how many words they themselves will be putting on each page of your finished book.

I've worked for publishers and booksellers and have hundreds of books at home and I know that the layout of books differs from book to book even though many appear to be the same (many will be - but not all). It may be useful for some of you to take an average of 400 words per page and compare that to your own manuscript so that you can imagine what your book will look like as a finished product. But also be aware that there will always be exceptions to any averages found.

March 9th, 2003, 03:32 PM
I've been following this thread casually, and I noticed a number of places where some one said that publishers like fantasy books to be huge. Why is that?

When I go to the library and browse randomly, I can always pick out the newer fantasy books easily. They are thick paperbacks with usually tacky pictures on the front. And, there's ten or twenty of them in a row. The Wheel of Time, for instance, is ten books, each about 1000 pages long. I don't know about you, but that is kind of discouraging for me. I don't know that I want to spend the time it would take to read 10,000 pages of one series, when I could be reading 10,000 pages of 100 different books that may be better, more diverse, more original, and more thought provoking.

Tolkien spent 30 years on Lord of the Rings and has 1400 pages of book.

Robert Jordan spent 10 years on "Wheel of Time" and has 10,000 pages of book.

So... why so big?