Friday, May 27, 2011

So what's correct?

I've read several "in the know" folks from across the Internet, and none of them agree, so I put it to you: what is the "proper" methodology to use to report (on page one of a manuscript) the word count of the book?

Type 1 people say "number of pages of manuscript multiplied by 250, rounded up to nearest thousand."

Type 2 people say "use what your word processor says, rounded up to the nearest thousand."

Here's the problem: word processors (MS Word 2007 among them) are wrong. Often times being off by more than 20%. This stems from the idea that the program simply doesn't know what a word is. Yes, I know...that's dumb...but that's the answer.

As a result, I'm a "Type 1" person. Sure, it's an overestimation of the actual word count (but not by much.) But still...I have to ask, and I did--which one is "correct"?

I'm sticking with Type 1--if it's good enough for Louisa Burton, it's good enough for me.


  1. Hey Phil! What I would recommend is actually type two. It may be wrong, of course, but if you use Word, Scrivener, or Pages, it's likely that it's the same number the agent will see when they read your MS. So no surprises. Besides, even if word processors are wrong, agents are used to it, and will expect it.

  2. Hi, Bethany! :)

    Doing some additional research (when I probably ought to be working), I came across this handy Google Answers link that talks about this very thing:

  3. That's good to know! Although be careful, because 250 words on a page was true for typewriters, it's not for many word processors. So just make sure you get about 250 words per page before you multiply it. :)

  4. I get a floating value between 220 and 275 when I do a quickie check. So I think 250 is still valid...for what it's worth. :)