Do Essay Word Counts Include Quotes

All words in the body of an assignment are included in the word count of an assignment (University of Sydney 2014, p. 7).  This includes in-text citations.  However, the word count does not include the executive summary, table of contents, figures, tables, appendices or the reference list (Sumners & Smith 2014, p. 48). Tables are generally included in appendices but there may be some variation with particular assignments.  Check with your lecturer if you are not sure.

*If you are using Mendeley, you will need to export the document without Mendeley fields for submission to Turnitin.  In Word, go to the Mendeley options in References (for Macs this in the applescript menu) - Export - Without Mendeley fields.  This will save a new document that will show the true word count when selecting the body of the assignment.

Sumners, J & Smith, B 2014, Communication skill handbook, 4th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Milton, Qld.

University of Sydney 2014, Guide to presentation of assignments 2014, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, viewed 5 September 2016,<>.

by Chelsea Lee

Dear Style Expert,

What words count toward the word count in an APA Style paper? Am I supposed to count the title page, abstract, citations, and reference list? Are there minimums or maximums for the word count of a sentence or paragraph? How many words should go in the whole paper? Help me!

—Wordy William

Dear Wordy,

Counting the number of words in an APA Style paper is easy: Count all the words in the entire paper to get the total word count. That includes the title page, abstract, main text, quotations, headings, citations, footnotes, reference list, tables, figure captions, and appendices—everything. This gives an accurate representation of the overall length of your paper and saves you from having to perform elaborate calculations just to know whether your paper is too long, too short, or just right. Use the word count feature of your word-processing program to count the words in your paper.

There is also no set minimum or maximum number of words allowed in a sentence or paragraph. Sentences and paragraphs of any length are technically allowed. However, there are still reasons to avoid very short or very long sentences and paragraphs that have nothing to do with arbitrary word counts. Very short sentences might be abrupt or choppy, and very long sentences might get confusing. Paragraphs shorter than two or three sentences might seem incomplete, and paragraphs longer than a page might contain too many ideas at once. Use very short or long sentences and paragraphs only when warranted by the information being presented.

The word count limit for an entire paper will be set by the journal to which you are submitting your work or by your professor for a university assignment. Limits vary widely and are dependent on the nature of the article you are writing—for example, a brief report will be short but a dissertation quite long.

The word count limit for the abstract is also set by the publisher or professor; abstract word limits vary from journal to journal and typically range from 150 to 250 words (for student assignments, the limit is typically 250 words as well).

If you’ve got other questions about word counts for your particular assignment, your professor or publisher will probably be the best resource for you. Leave any other questions or comments below.

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