Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Useful Tool for Students - Convert Words to Pages

I am often asked when setting assignments what the expected word count should be. I usually give guidelines such as 3,500-4,000 words. I warn students that this usually does not include tables, graphics, and appendices. I also advise not to over do quotations, especially long ones, as these should not count towards word count either.

Image Source: Helen Woodall Blog.
For some assignments there can be a lot of "non word count" stuff like tables and quotations - this can sometimes make for lengthy assignments which will actually have a low word count if all these are excluded. It is important for students to remember that the word count refers to their own work - you are not going to get any credit for having a 100 word quotation from somebody else in your essay.

Another way that students like to be able to measure what they should do is to estimate the number of pages that they have to write. There are several tools to help guide for this - Word to Pages is one such tool. I like it because you can check out different font types and sizes. For example, one page of Times New Roman size 12 font is about 400 words. 1,000 words is roughly 2.5 pages.

Finally - I always advise that it is a good idea to stick to the word count. Definitely do not write less that whatever figure is guided, and probably you should exceed it by a couple of hundred words to take account of labels and quotations. The main reason I advise sticking to the word count (and this is Project Scope Management, which I teach) is that it is a guideline that should be followed. Check with your lecturer/teacher if there are penalties for not following the word count guideline - this does happen.

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