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How many words - what is the ideal length?

     
2:05 pm on Aug 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Note: The following messages were moved to their own thread to keep the original discussion on topic.


What would be the ideal length


The formula to use is :
( 100 / font_size ) x Phi x Pi

100 = the average number of words, which can be displayed on a mobile screen. If you have sticky banner, you might consider taking a lower number then.
font_size = the size of the font using the "rem" unit (the higher the font size is, the less words can be displayed on the screen ).
Phi = ( 1 + root square of 5 ) / 2 , aka the golden ratio, which is the solution of the quadratic equation x2 - x - 1 = 0
Pi = the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter

To simplify let's take Phi = 1.6180 and Pi = 3.1415 .

So for a font size of 1rem , it gives:
( 100 / 1 ) x 1.6180 x 3.1415 ~= 508 words.

If you have a higher font size, like 1.2rem, it gives

( 100 / 1.2 ) x 1.6180 x 3.1415 ~= 423 words.


edit: some prefer to use the full values of Phi and Pi in the calculation, to have more precise results, but I believe that the approximations are good enough. Also, some theories claim you should round number to the closer unit, personally I prefer to keep the floor value, because it's easier to cast a float into an int, than computing the closer integer value. But as usual , you should experiment to find what works best for your site and content.

edit 2: or you can write your content using the number of words it takes YOU to cover the subject ...



[edited by: not2easy at 6:44 pm (utc) on Aug 2, 2019]
[edit reason] Mod's Intro for Moved Posts [/edit]

2:45 pm on Aug 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri You really need to stop spreading false information. Or maybe you are simply not up to date with the latest research. I don't know! But you need to check your facts before posting. REALLY!

Everyone knows that Phi no longer works since at least the last Panda update. Now you need to replace phi with Euler's number ~2.71828.

I believe that the approximations are good enough.

That statement is simply irrational.
3:33 pm on Aug 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Euler's number

You will never make me use two 'transcendental' numbers in the same formula... I still have dignity !
3:48 pm on Aug 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks! I was wondering where to get more fertilizer for my azaleas...
10:31 pm on Aug 2, 2019 (gmt 0)

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3.1415

rounding would be more appropriate than truncation here
1:15 am on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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some theories claim you should round number to the closer unit
Personally I never pass up an opportunity for rounding to evens. At the final stage you would ideally apply some additional jiggery-pokery so the total word count is an even number, preferably one that is also divisible by 3 for optimal feng-shuiness. I think the ratio of { number of independent clauses : number of sentences } is supposed to be somewhere between sqrt(2) and sqrt(3), while it can go up to sqrt(5) if you instead assess all clauses (dependent and independent).
2:14 am on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Too much for me! I just do (this many)+(that many)=done

Fingers and toes might be involved.
8:42 am on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Length of paragraphs is also important and often neglected.

It has to follow an exponential growth. This is something easy to understand, when you think about it.

Today, people have low and short attention, and are scanning pages, more than really reading them. So, the first paragraph has to be short, and still deliver enough information to catch the attention of the reader. Which "might" convert into more reading.

If the first paragraphs are too long people will feel lazy and not bother reading them. However, as you succeed to stimulate the interest of the reader, you can progressively increase the size of the next paragraph and so on . See it as a cliffhanger, each paragraph contributes to increase the interest, pushing the reader to stay and continue reading. Also, it takes times for a reader to assimilate concepts developed, so if you overflow him/her with too many things, this is not good. So go progressively, add one brick after an other.

But the conclusion has to be short, and focus just on the most important so it can be remembered.
9:04 am on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Some people would need to write 10,000 words because they ramble. Others would need 300 words because they get to the point. Number of words is no longer a ranking point.
10:39 am on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Number of words is no longer a ranking point.

Heretic !
1:10 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Number of words is no longer a ranking point.

That's right now it's word density. I hear you can reduce the space between words with CSS.
1:36 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Indeed, I heard this rumor too. This is complicating the equation, because, there are 3 levers to play with.

word-spacing:
https://www.w3schools.com/cssref/pr_text_word-spacing.asp


letter-spacing:
https://www.w3schools.com/cssref/pr_text_letter-spacing.asp


line-height:
https://www.w3schools.com/cssref/pr_dim_line-height.asp


From my experimentation, you must reduce the space between words (and letters) within "key phrases" and expand these spaces for words less important. This replaces the previous trick of putting key phrases within <B> or <U> tags.

Also, you must play with the line space, in order to make sure that no more than 3 key phrases appear on the screen at the same time (on mobile), otherwise you will be caught by the algorithm.
4:36 pm on Aug 3, 2019 (gmt 0)

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letter-spacing
Especially useful if your page is displayed in fraktur, which doesn’t come with italics. (Mechanically slanted text is not italic.) I am particularly fond* of 19th-century German academic writing, which was printed in antiqua in order to reach a wider audience ... but emphasis continues to be  g e s p e r r t ** because that's what the writers and printers are used to.


* My fingers typed “font of”. No, they really did.
** Your Word Of The Day.
3:29 am on Aug 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One of the things I love about Webmasterworld ... you never know what exciting new nuggets of knowledge you might discover! Such a fabulous gestalt!
1:26 pm on Aug 5, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Learning something new everyday!
7:07 pm on Aug 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Don't forget to type slowly -- so the content has time to sink in.
9:58 pm on Aug 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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B shure u spel thngs lik ur redrs xpect!
10:06 am on Aug 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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B shure u spel thngs lik ur redrs xpect!

And to stay up to date. Because language(s) are evolving very fast. Gibberish of 2017, might have a totally different meaning in 2019, and the meaning can be lost by 2021.
4:38 pm on Aug 11, 2019 (gmt 0)

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stay up to date
Well, you have to know your audience. Are you writing for Extreme Prescriptivists, who believe that the language attained its final perfection the day they began primary school, and all subsequent developments are atrocities worthy only of the lowest illiterates--or are you writing for Extreme Descriptivists, who believe that native speakers cannot, by definition, make mistakes?

Funnily enough I was reminded of this thread yesterday when I came across a passage in an 1894 novel where the hero's mother is complaining about newspaper coverage of his first moment of courtroom glory:
“Even the other lawyer, who had
nothing to say but lies, took over a column to his speech.
And his was printed close together, while that of Peter’s
was spread out (i.e. solid and leaded) making the difference
in length all the greater.”
I think mom has it backward: printing her son's speech in “spread out” type gives it all the more emphasis, while printing the opponent’s speech “close together” makes it look like a dense block of bloviation that nobody will bother to read.
 

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