Estimate your book's page count
Book designer Fiona Raven calculates your book's page count based on your page size and the number of words in your manuscript.
You've finished your manuscript and are ready to get some quotes for printing your book. But the first thing a printer will ask is "How many pages are in your book?" A simple way to calculate your finished book's approximate page count is to use my chart.
Estimates for Page Counts (PDF: 61 KB / 2 pages)
How to use my chart
You'll need four pieces of information to use my chart: your page size, font and font size, paragraph spacing and number of words. At present you'll just be guessing at most of the information based on your preferences, so here are a few notes to help you gather that information.
This is the size you choose for your finished book. There are three sizes in my chart: 5.5" x 8.5", 6" x 9" and 8" x 10". If your book will be published as a regular trade paperback, you'll choose either 5.5" x 8.5" or 6" x 9". I usually recommend using the smaller size if your book will be slim, and the larger size if your book will be thick. The third size, 8" x 10", is a standard size for a larger, squarer book, perhaps one with more diagrams or pictures.
Font and font size
The chart includes two fonts: Garamond and Times. Garamond is more delicate and uses less space, and Times is heavier and uses more space. Choose the font that you feel suits your subject matter the best, lighter or heavier.
The chart includes two font sizes: 11/13 and 12/14. Normally in a word processing program you'll be typing in a 12 point font, so you'll be familiar with the 12/14 size. The number 14 just refers to single spacing when using the 12 point font. If you prefer a slightly smaller type for your book, the 11/13 size will suit you better.
Look at the two paragraphs above under "Font and Font Size." You'll see that every line in those paragraphs starts at the left margin, and the way the paragraphs are separated is by leaving a space between them. In my chart, this is called "no indent, double space between paragraphs." If you choose this style of paragraphs for your book, your book will have more pages due to the extra space between paragraphs.
The other choice for paragraph layout is to not have a space between the paragraphs, and instead to indent the first line of each paragraph (like these two paragraphs). In my chart, this is called "0.2 first line indent." The measurement 0.2 just refers to a standard size indent.
Number of words
You can find out how many words are in your manuscript by doing a word count in your word processing program.
Calculating your book's approximate page length
Once you've gathered your four pieces of information, find the appropriate line on my chart.
Let's say you've decided to choose the smallest book size (5.5" x 8.5"), the lighter and smaller font size (Garamond 11/13), the paragraphs without spaces between (0.2 first line indent), and that your manuscript has 50,000 words. You'll find these choices on the first line of the first page of my chart.
Follow the line over to the two right-hand columns. You'll see that 2,500 words will make 6.35 pages in your book, or that 1 page will contain approximately 390 words. Here's how I calculate your page count if you have 50,000 words:
50,000 divided by 390 = 128.20 pages
Add front and back matter
Don't forget to add to your page count a title page, copyright page, table of contents, appendix, index, and any other pages that are not included in your manuscript but will form part of your published book.
I also add an extra half page for each chapter, because usually each chapter will have a heading which takes up approximately half a page.
Controlling your page count
Having an approximate page count can be helpful in a number of situations. You can estimate your page count closely enough to start obtaining quotes for printing well in advance of having your book designed.
Also, you may be surprised by your page count, and realize that your book is thinner or thicker than you anticipated. Moving to even a slightly larger page size can lower your page count and save printing costs. Or, if your book is too slim, you can choose a smaller page size, a larger font size, and a paragraph style which adds more space (and more pages) to your book.
This type of information is very helpful to your book designer. If your book needs to be thicker to improve perceived value, your book designer can help in many ways. Similarly, if your book is lengthy and you want to keep printing costs down, your book designer can minimize your page count by creating a design with this in mind.
Copyright © 2004 Fiona Raven, Book Designer
For use of this article, please contact Fiona for written permission.