Science in Society

What should my word count be?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Word counts

Article word count depends on the publication. For neat layout in a print magazine spread, stick to 800-1100 words for longer articles, and 200-600 words for a shorter news article. Online articles may be shorter or longer, however, the point is to retain the reader. People are inundated with information and lured away from intelligent topics with superficial click bait, so science articles have to be tight and to the point.

Video subtitles: Keep sentences short and allow enough seconds for a slow read. The viewer almost needs to see the entire phrase in one glance. Rather break the phrase and create a second frame/slide. See these tips and BBC guidelines.

Tweets: Plan your tweets carefully. Twitter allows 280 characters, which is about 55 words, but using fewer words will up your chances to retain the twitter audience. Some believe using 70–100 characters (15–20 words) is optimal but you will compete with average tweets being fewer than 50 characters (10 words). Another option is to create a story thread.

Here is an example:

  • Study the word counts of articles that you have read to the end … and those you haven’t. Then take into account that academics tend to have more reading endurance than many other people.
  • Using simple text boxes and infographics may help to break the text.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • See language and style section for tips to cut unnecessary words.
  • See the writing for the web section.

Link to the next section:

  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What do I want to share?
  3. What should my word count be?
  4. How do I structure an article?
  5. How can I use stories in my communication?
  6. I need help with language and style
  7. What about footnotes/bibliographies/references?
  8. Tick box
  9. Talking about the HSRC: Are we diluting our brand?
  10. Focus on the researcher: Conveying the So What? and writing a short biography
  11. How do I structure a PowerPoint presentation?
  12. How do I take a useful photograph?
  13. How do I plan the structure of a short video?
  14. Useful links on science communication
  15. I am no digital native and need help with these: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​creating hyperlinks, tracking edits in Word, making edits in Pdf, sending large documents and folders via WeTransfer
  16. Visualise your communication for impact
  17. HSRC events: Requirements for drafting and sending invitations

This toolkit is designed to help HSRC researchers to communicate information about their research effectively to maximise impact.​​​​​​​