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50 Thousand Word Essay

This is a question we get from time to time. There are instances when you’re given an assignment, not by word count, but assigned by the number of pages. For example, “Write a paper four pages long.” If you get an assignment to write four pages, one of the first questions that will likely come to mind is, “How many words are in four pages?” If you need to figure out words per page, you can use a words per page calculator.

The truth is there is no definitive answer to this question. The number of words it will take to fill a page will depend on a number of factors including the type of font used, the font size, spacing elements, the margins used on the paper, the paragraph length, etc. For example, if the assignment says the writing should be in 10-point font, it’s going to take a greater number of words to fill a page than if the assignment requires a 12-point font.

For those who need a general rule of thumb, a typical page which has 1-inch margins and is typed in 12 point font with standard spacing elements will be approximately 500 words when typed single spaced. For assignments that require double spacing, it would take approximately 250 words to fill the page. For an assignment that requires you to write four pages, you can make the estimation that you’ll need to write approximately 2000 words for a single spaced paper, or 1000 words if the assignment is double spaced. Again, the type of font used can make the word count higher or lower, but it’s a good rule of thumb for those who are simply looking for a general estimation.

Since there can be a large variation on the number of words needed to fill a page, most papers are no longer assigned by page count. They are instead assigned by word count. That is, an assignment, essay or paper will likely be assigned as 1500 – 2000 words rather than 3 – 4 pages. This way it is much more difficult for the writer to “game the system” by using large fonts and excessive spacing to meet the writing criteria.

If you are given a writing assignment with a page number, the best thing to do is go directly to the person who made the assignment and ask for a word count. This will take away all the variations and help ensure your writing assignment meets expectations. If it’s for something informal and you simply need a general guideline, you can find it below.

How many pages is…

The below list is an approximation, and actual pages will differ depending on a number of factors mentioned earlier in this article. Use the below information for a general reference, but don’t assume it will be the case at all times. Here are basic word to pages conversions:

  • 500 words is 1 page single spaced, 2 pages double spaced.
  • 1,000 words is 2 pages single spaced 4 pages double spaced.
  • 1,500 words is 3 pages single spaced, 6 pages double spaced.
  • 2,000 words is 4 pages single spaced, 8 pages double spaced.
  • 2,500 words is 5 pages single spaced, 10 pages double spaced.
  • 3,000 words is 6 pages single spaced, 12 pages double spaced.
  • 4,000 words is 8 pages single spaced, 16 pages double spaced.
  • 5,000 words is 10 pages single spaced, 20 pages double spaced.
  • 7,500 words is 15 pages single spaced, 30 pages double spaced.
  • 10,000 words is 20 pages single spaced, 40 pages double spaced.
  • 20,000 words is 40 pages single spaced, 80 pages double spaced.
  • 25,000 words is 50 pages single spaced, 100 pages double spaced.
  • 30,000 words is 60 pages single spaced, 120 pages double spaced.
  • 40,000 words is 80 pages single spaced, 160 pages double spaced.
  • 50,000 words is 100 pages single spaced, 200 pages double spaced.
  • 60,000 words is 120 pages single spaced, 240 pages double spaced.
  • 70,000 words is 140 pages single spaced, 280 pages double spaced.
  • 75,000 words is 150 pages single spaced, 300 pages double spaced.
  • 80,000 words is 160 pages single spaced, 320 pages double spaced.
  • 90,000 words is 180 pages single spaced, 360 pages double spaced.
  • 100,000 words is 200 pages single spaced, 400 pages double spaced.

Below are basic pages to words conversions:

  • 1 page is 500 words single spaced, 250 words double spaced.
  • 2 pages is 1,000 words single spaced, 500 words double spaced.
  • 3 pages is 1,500 words single spaced, 750 words double spaced.
  • 4 pages is 2,000 words single spaced, 1,000 words double spaced.
  • 5 pages is 2,500 words single spaced, 1,250 words double spaced.
  • 6 pages is 3,000 words single spaced, 1,500 words double spaced.
  • 7 pages is 3,500 words single spaced, 1,750 words double spaced.
  • 8 pages is 4,000 words single spaced, 2,000 words double spaced.
  • 9 pages is 4,500 words single spaced, 2,250 words double spaced.
  • 10 pages is 5,000 words single spaced, 2,500 words double spaced.
  • 15 pages is 7,500 words single spaced, 3,750 words double spaced.
  • 20 pages is 10,000 words single spaced, 5,000 words double spaced.
  • 25 pages is 12,500 words single spaced, 6,250 words double spaced.
  • 30 pages is 15,000 words single spaced, 7,500 words double spaced.
  • 40 pages is 20,000 words single spaced, 10,000 words double spaced.
  • 50 pages is 25,000 words single spaced, 12,500 words double spaced.
  • 60 pages is 30,000 words single spaced, 15,000 words double spaced.
  • 70 pages is 35,000 words single spaced, 17,500 words double spaced.
  • 75 pages is 37,500 words single spaced, 18,750 words double spaced.
  • 80 pages is 40,000 words single spaced, 20,000 words double spaced.
  • 90 pages is 45,000 words single spaced, 22,500 words double spaced.
  • 100 pages is 50,000 words single spaced, 25,000 words double spaced.

(Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan)

We live in a culture obsessed with speed: fast-food, Twitter, overnight celebrity, instant make-overs and cutting edge techno-gadgets. We drive too fast, desperate to get ahead literally as well as metaphorically. And when we get home we surf TV, scroll through Facebook, eat, drink and talk on the phone. Apparently, the only thing we want to slow down in the modern world is the ageing process – and it’s no surprise that our solution to that problem is a quick injection of Botox or a lunch-time facelift.

Far from being an oasis of tranquillity, the world of books is not immune to the demands of 24/7 society. Publishers – keen to get a new writer’s name on the radar – are at the very least likely to commission a book a year from each author. Some want writers to work even more quickly. Six months is seen by some as a reasonable gestation period for a genre book; three months is not unknown. (Literary writers get more leeway, but the pressures are still there. Prizes must be won; the public must be satisfied.) After all, the aim is to get the book out there, in front of readers, on Amazon.

As for the wannabe writer, with that brilliant, world-changing novel as yet unwritten, the answer is surely to write one as soon as possible. Until the thing exists in tangible form, then the dream of being a writer will never become a reality. One solution is to sign up with NaNoWriMo, a global writing project which takes place every November. Writers log in, pledge to produce 50,000 words by the end of the month – and off they go. Some fall by the wayside, but the organisers report that last year more than 300,000 reached the target: “They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle-school English teachers. They walked away novelists.”

Up to a point. Those NaNoWriMo completers have certainly written enough words to fill a novel – although a fairly short one in contemporary terms – but this is inevitably a process that privileges speed over quality. As Ernest Hemingway observed: “the first draft of everything is shit”. Equally, even if it’s accepted that these 50,000 words form a work in progress, the value of writing that much that quickly is unclear.

My own experience is that writing a first draft without reflection can in itself be a strange form of evasion – you keep writing in the vain hope that by producing lots of words the problems in your narrative will resolve themselves. But sometimes it is essential to stop and think – and question. Before I completed my first novel, I began two other novels that hit the wall at 30,000 words. I fell short of NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 goal, but wrote in that spirit, churning out words against the clock, smoking furiously. (I was young then, and thought this was part of the deal.)

There are pros and cons of writing under pressure. Every writer is different, and this applies to speed of production as much as it does to style. In the “speed” corner we have George Simenon, who would have been a NaNoWriMo natural, with an average novel production time of four weeks; and John Grisham, who wrote his bestseller The Pelican Brief in 100 days. One of the most notorious writers both at and on speed was Jack Kerouac who penned On the Road in three weeks, aided by Benzedrine. The result, produced on a 120-foot scroll manuscript, prompted Truman Capote’s killer put-down: “That’s not writing, it’s typing”.

In the slow corner is Donna Tartt, whose career does not appear to have been damaged by producing a novel every decade. Then there’s Tom Wolfe, who took 11 years to write A Man in Full and J.R.R Tolkien, who began writing what was to be The Lord of the Rings in 1936 and finished in 1952. But the daddy of slow writing must be William H Gass, who took 30 years to write his masterwork, The Tunnel.

I’m not suggesting that one group is superior to the other, but it’s important to remember that along with their unique voice each writer found their natural speed. My last novel took four years to write and that seems to be my optimum pace. Some writers need to take their time. Writing a novel isn’t like going on The X Factor – itself a concept which is looking stale – and though impatience and dissatisfaction can fuel determination, they can also be a snare.

After all, the writing is the only phase of a novel’s life that is ours alone. If we do find an agent, a publisher, an audience, our book belongs to other people. Just as an artist is usually more at home in a studio than a gallery, we are in our element when we are sitting at our laptop, inventing worlds. There are no quick fixes if you want to write the best book that you can. And writing isn’t about endings; it is a way of life.

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