Since it is Friday I will continue my tradition of a more off-topic topic!
Many readers will be familiar with Osprey. They publish a number of series of books on military history such as the “Men at Arms” and “Elite” ranges. I was recommending one of these books to a friend and made an observation that these books were of a convenient length to get through in a lunch break.
When I write a blog post I usually write it first in a word processor program. I then upload the basic text onto the website and add links and illustrations as required. Recently I have noticed that many of the posts I had made were two pages or less of plain text. This seemed to produce a blog of a relatively convenient size that can deal with a topic but not be overly long.
I had been reading some GURPS sourcebooks recently too. These can often be a useful source of interesting information since some are very well researched. These tend to be more text intensive than the Osprey books. Third edition sourcebooks can be 128+ pages long, which can be a little long (over 100,000 words). Interestingly many of the more recent fourth edition publications are under 60 pages, with some as short as 17 pages. Some may be shorter.
I began to ponder these observations. The Osprey books are very informative and detailed but generally have a page count of between 32 and 64 pages. This includes numerous illustrations, eight full colour plates and quite wide margins down one side of the page. How big is an Osprey book in plain text? I found a blog where an author talks about writing his first book for Osprey and the figure of 15,000 words is mentioned. 15,000 words is approximately 30-40 pages of single spaced text. That sounds very credible for a 48-64 page illustrated book of Osprey format.
Every now and then I come across a webpage where the writer attempts to include absolutely everything on a certain topic. They may also decide to put down everything they know related to the topic. And everything else they may be interested in at the moment they were writing the page. Just to make things even more interesting the page will often lack a logical structure. It is a pity since some such pages often include a lot of interesting information, but this is easy to overlook or miss. If the author is trying to make a particular point this can sometimes be lost in the general tidal wave. If you want to refer the reader to additional information use hyperlinks or, if writing in dead tree format, references!
Now I have written a few overly long and somewhat rambling webpages myself over the years. A few of the more recent ones, however, I have been pleased with the conciseness of. Out of curiosity I pasted a few examples of these into the word processor for a crude word count. Several of these are under 2,000 words, with the longer ones a couple of hundred under 4,000.
This seems like a very useful set of guidelines. Two pages or less of plain solid text for a blog post. (Font size 12, Georgia, single spaced). 4,000 words or less for a webpage, with less than half of that attractive. For longer works aim for under 15,000 words. If that is not possible aim for sections or chapters of less than this size. The latter strategy may also help towards the better structuring and presentation of the information.
589 words :P