Estimate your page count

Estimate your book's page countBy Fiona Raven, book designer

You’ve finished your manuscript (or nearly finished it!) and you’re ready to get some quotes for book design and printing. But first you’ll want to know approximately how many pages your finished book will have. Here’s a simple way to calculate your book’s approximate page count using the word count of your manuscript.

Find your word count
In Word, click anywhere in your document and your word count will show in the status bar at the bottom left, between the number of pages and the dictionary language.

Choose a trim size
You’ll need to choose a trim size for your book just as a starting point, so choose the one below that’s the most appropriate for your book:

For fiction: 5.5″ x 8.5″
For nonfiction: 6″ x 9″

Large format books with illustrations are more difficult to predict the final page count, but usually large pages will have a similar amount of text as small pages, as part of the large page will be devoted to illustrations, sidebars, captions, and so on. Choose one of the above sizes, even for your large format book, just as a starting point.

Calculate the number of pages
Using your current word count and the appropriate formula below, calculate the number of pages you can expect in your finished book:

Your word count divided by 390 = page count for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ book
For example: 50,000 divided by 390 = 128.20 pages

Your word count divided by 475 = page count for a 6″ x 9″ book
For example: 50,000 divided by 475 = 105.26 pages

As you can see, a smaller trim size will produce more pages for the same word count, and a larger trim size will produce less. These formulas are based on using:

  • a standard typeface for book publishing (Garamond)
  • a standard type size (11 pt)
  • standard margins
  • standard spacing (the first line of each paragraph is indented, and there are no blank lines between paragraphs)

Calculate the number of pages for 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 each chapter opens slightly down from the top margin, and seldom ends at the bottom of the last page.

Calculate the number of pages your images will require
Will you be adding images to your pages? If so, the number and size of your images will affect your page count. Here’s an easy way to calculate how many extra pages your images will require:

  1. count your images and divide them into rough sizes: full page, half page and quarter page
  2. calculate the number of pages based on these figures. For example:
    5 images @ 1 page = 5 pages
    20 images @ 0.5 page = 10 pages
    20 images @ 0.25 page = 5 pages

And finally, calculate the approximate number of pages in your upcoming book!
Add together the number of pages from your:

  • word count
  • front and back matter
  • images

Voila!

Knowing your approximate page count can be helpful in a number of situations. You can start obtaining quotes for printing, calculating costs of shipping, and choosing a price for your book, well in advance of having your book designed.

Controlling your page count
You may be surprised by your page count, and realize that your book is going to be 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 slimmer than you’d hoped, you can choose a smaller page size, a larger font size, and a paragraph style which adds more generous spacing (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 and shipping costs down, your book designer can minimize your page count by creating a design with this in mind.

Thanks for making it through this lengthy post. I hope it’s helpful!

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Fiona Raven is a freelance book designer
Find her on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook

2 thoughts on “Estimate your page count

  1. Troy Racki

    Thanks for all the useful information on how to determine page count. You have a really nice looking website and a lot of resources for first time publishers.

    Reply
  2. fiona Post author

    Troy, I’m glad you found this useful. There’s a steep learning curve when you’re publishing for the first time, so every bit helps!

    Reply

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