(Note that I use OpenOffice but this question should apply to MS Word as well)

It's common knowledge that the average word count for a page is around 250. I understand that this is heavily dependent on the final formatting of the work, and doesn't necessarily apply to a manuscript. But I've noticed that I get around 700 words/page, which seems like an awful lot to me.

This isn't an unbearable problem by any definition. I get that word count is far more important. But I would like to at least have a rough feel for the number of pages, and that's hard to do when you get so many words per page.

All my settings are default: Times New Roman size 12, 8.5" * 11.0" page, margins 0.79" on all sides. Just raw text. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • 2
    It's the double spacing that gets you. Also, it's possibly that you write dialogue-lite stories and that has some effect. Mostly the spacing, though. I get a good 500 words into a page of OpenOffice on 1.25 spacing.
    – lea
    Nov 8, 2014 at 8:48
  • @MacCooper I've done a few word counts by hand and they seem seem to match up(plus or minus maybe a word per couple pages), but is there an alternative you would recommend?
    – starscape
    Nov 8, 2014 at 17:53
  • 1
    Maybe you need to use bigger words!? ;-)
    – Liath
    Nov 11, 2014 at 13:46

5 Answers 5


A standard manuscript page has about 250 words on average. Standard manuscript format is this (or a minor variation):

  • 8.5" x 11"
  • 1" margins top and bottom, left and right.
  • 12 point Courier font.
  • Double spaced.

If you have significantly more or fewer than that on average, your document is likely not formatted in the standard manuscript form.

Here are a few descriptions of standard manuscript form:

  • 2
    Thanks. It was the double spacing that was really getting me.
    – starscape
    Nov 8, 2014 at 18:00

It may be that you are using a lot of small words when you could be using long ones. There is some times when the use of short words is a must and gives short punches and bursts.

Nevertheless, in selective instances lengthier word combinations might possibly generate a necessary and consequently beneficiary alternative regarding the rhythmical arrangement of the paragraph configurational structure.

Times is rather small too, Arial might be better and is often required by publishing houses. still, what works for you, works.

Also how about the vertical spacing between sentences, are you using single or double, or maybe a personal setting


In the old days of typewriters with fixed-size fonts, a page was 8.5 x 11 inches, we set 1.25 inch margins left and right and 1 inch margins top and bottom. Most typewriters gave 10 characters per inch horizontally, so 6 inches between the margins gave a 60 space line. They had 6 lines per inch, so 9 inches between the margins gave 54 lines. A "standard word" was considered 6 characters, so 60 characters per line equals 10 words, times 54 lines per page single-spaced is 540 words. Double-spaced would be 270 words.

You really got a little less than that because you typically had a ragged right margin, and you often had short lines, such as at the end of a paragraph. So I guess 250 words for a double-spaced page is about right.

Modern word processors are much more variable. There are many different font sizes and possible line spacings. So the number of words per page varies widely.

Still, if you set your font to something with fixed spacing, like Courier, at 12 point font size, and set paragraph spacing to 24 points, you should get about 250 words per page.

But why do you care?


I have the same problem--though 700 words double-spaced seems unlikely, so I assume you mean single spaced (and while 350 words a page is a lot, I'm generally looking at 430 words per page)--but it is NOT because you're using small words. In fact, the opposite is likely to be true--you're using bigger words in lieu of a bunch of smaller words. Go ahead and enter it into the Flesch-Kincaid test for readability, and I bet you're likely to get upwards of a 20 grade level.


And what about characters per page? As far as i remember a "standard page" is 1800 characters including spaces, no matter how many words it is (though it should be around 250 words). Have you tried to count characters?

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