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Writing Books/From manuscript to printed pages


I have a manuscript that I intend to send to a typesetter, and am aiming for a 256-page book. The problem is, I feel my ms. has too many words and will result in a book with a higher printed-page count. Question: How can I get a good idea of how many printed pages my manuscript will turn out to be? By knowing this I will be able to tightly edit down my manuscript to fit within 256 printed pages.

Dear Harold,

Unfortunately, there's no exact, accurate measure because there are too many variables, including the design choices in both your manuscript and the final typeset version (font/point size, margins, line spacing, etc.).

Having said that, you can get a rough idea by finding a printed book that is similar to what you want yours to look like. Do a rough word count (count the number of words in an average line and multiply it by the number of lines on the page). Do the same thing with an average manuscript page.

From there, use this formula:
book page word count/manuscript page word count. Multiply the result by the number of manuscript pages to get an approximate page count for the typeset version.

Don't forget to account for front matter (title page, copyright page, acknowledgments, etc.) and back matter (index, glossary, etc.), and for blank verso pages that might be part of your book design but that are not present in the manuscript.

Remember, it's an art not a science.

Having said all that, make sure your manuscript is tightly edited regardless of page count. At the same time, don't force the book to fit within a page count that will diminish the power/value of your text.

There are many books and online resources for self-publishers. If you want some suggestions, contact me via my web site.

Good luck with your project,
Mark David Gerson

Writing Books

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Mark David Gerson


Happy to answer questions about writing, writer's block, publishing/self-publishing. Can answer general questions, but not available to critique work.


Published author; have taught writing for 15 years at colleges, universities and community centers in the U.S. and Canada.

Southwest Writers New Mexico Book Co-op

Author of the fantasy adventure, The MoonQuest, and the book of writing inspiration and practice, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. Freelanced full-time as a writer, journalist and editor for more than a decade. Published in a wide range of publications. Free inspirational e-newsletter has 1200 subscribers in more than a dozen countries.

Published Author. Published Freelance Writer. More than 15 years of teaching/coaching/consulting.

Awards and Honors
New Mexico Discovery Award 2006; Award-Winning Finalist in Visionary Fiction, the National Best Books 2007 Awards

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