words per manuscript page

Hi All,
When discussing volume, buyers tend to understand total pages more easily than total words. I try to as accurately as possible indicate to them that one page will be equivalent to approximately xxx words.

I’ve been using 200 words per page as my reference. But I’ve seen a few posts online wherein they define a manuscript page as 250-300 words (seems high to me).

What is Scrivener’s official position on this? And what are users’ positions on this?

I’m a little surprised to hear that your buyers tend to understand pages rather than words. My experience, perhaps more limited than yours, is that agents and publishers tend to focus on the total number of words, with the preferred number varying according to the intended market. New writer or experienced? Fact or fiction? And so on (as you’ll have seen from a quick Google). As regards the number of pages, for any given number of words tha tin my experience is generally regarded as secondary, depending, for example, on the type of book, its subject-matter and style, the number of illustrations if any, the typeface and of course, the physical dimensions of the printed pages. (Of course, I’m talking about the mainstream markets. There will always be exceptions: for example, highly illustrated children’s fiction.)

For this reason if no other, I suspect (although I don’t know for certain) that L&L has no official position on the number of words per page. It will all depend, In fact, you’ll have noticed that Scrivener itself has no real concept of “pages” until a project is compiled and the formatting and layout of the project takes on a more “frozen” form. To the extent that Scrivener can help you with discovering the total number of pages in your project before you compile, you may find Chapter 16 of the Scrivener Manual helpful.

For myself, I reckon on around 250 words per page. But that’s just a personal rough guide.

I worked in publishing for many years, and we always assumed 250 words per page as an average. But the first thing we did upon receiving a submission that showed promise, in those days before computerized word count, is count the average words on a page then count the pages, so that we could arrive at a rough word-count. We didn’t care how many pages an author took to say what she had to say, so long as she could say it in 100,000 words or less.

By “buyers”, do you mean readers, or agents/editors?

I just wanted to make sure everyone was on the same… page. :smiling_imp:

As noted, there is no official Scrivener position on this. Are you using US Letter-sized paper? A4? Half-sheets for paperback publication?

More relevant, make sure you and your audience have the same understanding of what a “page” is. I’ve dealt with magazine editors who think in terms of published magazine pages, which will generally have a lot more words than manuscript pages. (In the neighborhood of 1000 words per published page in my case.)

I think 250 words per page is the long-established rule of thumb for “standard manuscript format,” which is Courier 12 point, double-spaced, on US Letter paper with 1" margins all around. In this context, note that “words” is really “number of characters divided by 5.” Obviously the number of actual words per page can vary significantly depending on the vocabulary being used: “See Spot run” is three words, but so is “extreme ultraviolet lithography.”


rdale, when I say “buyers”, I’m referring to the individuals who commission me to write their life stories. That’s my gig.
They’re buying my services to write their autobiography for them. They tend to understand page volume more easily than word-count. Word-count means nothing to them as they can’t visualize it and they are not industry savvy, so they always say “how many pages is that?”
Not only do I have to give them an idea of how many pages 50,000 words will be in a manuscript, but I also have to explain that manuscript pages don’t necessarily equate perfectly in printed paperback book pages. In other words, your 300-page manuscript might not quite be a 300-page book . But that’s a different conversation :slight_smile:

Thanks for the explanation. Apologies for misunderstanding your meaning the first time.