Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Word Counting ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Word Counting
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: kenm0re-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 20 Oct 2004 10:01 PDT
Expires: 19 Nov 2004 09:01 PST
Question ID: 417602
Hello! I am currently in an essay contest. "In exactly 100 words describe..."
My question is when you use words like "AKA" "FYI" or "$600,000", are
these counted as 1 word or 3. It doesn't say in the rules, but at the
same time I can't be over/under. I'm looking for generic essay contest
rules help that will lead me the right direction. Thanks!!
Subject: Re: Word Counting
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 20 Oct 2004 10:54 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Howdy again, kenm0re. 

I've gathered some info for you from the rules of contests and
competitions in which submissions are limited to a certain number of

"Contractions, initials and anacronymns count as single words.

 Numerals, such as 55, count as one word."

Success Strategies for Songwriters


1. You can write about anything as long as you use only 55 words.

2. If it's in the dictionary, it's a word - no matter how short.

3. Hyphenated words don't count as single words - unless the words
don't become two complete freestanding words when the hyphen is
removed eg re-entry.

4. The title is not included in the word count, but can't be longer
than 7 words long.

5. Contractions such as 'won't' and 'he'll' count as one word - so
keep that in mind for word economy.

6. Initials - in names, for instance - also count as a word since it's
basically an abbreviation of a full word. In the case of acronyms such
as NASA, we allow exceptions.

7. Numbers count as words too - whether expressed in numerals (1984,
5, 23) or in words. Hyphenated numbers such as 'twenty-three' count as
two words.

8. Any punctuation is allowed and doesn't count as words." 

The 55 Word Essay Competition

"Contractions count as one word. 'Don't' is one word; so is 'I'd've.' 

You get one free hyphen per word. 'Horse-piercing' counts as one word.
'Non-horse-piercing' counts as two. 'The cat gave me that
look' counts as 23 words, not seven.

Punctuation doesn't count as a word so long as it's being used as
punctuation and not as a lexical element. 'Whoa ? check it out' counts
as four words, not five. But 'I'm changing my name to @#%#@," Prince
said' counts as eight words, not seven."

The Lyttle Lytton Contest

Note, however, that in some contests, hyphenated words and
contractions may be viewed differently:

"No more or less than 55 words. Hyphenated words can't count as one word.

 Contractions do count as single words."

Fifty-Five Fiction Contest

"Hyphenated words can't count as single words. For example,
'blue-green dress' is three words, not two. Exceptions to this are any
words that don't become two complete free-standing words when the
hyphen is removed, like 're-entry'...

Contractions count as single words, so if you're really seeking word
economy (as you should be), keep this in mind. If you write, 'He will
jump,' it's three words. But if you write, 'He'll jump,' it's only
two. Very economical. By the same token, any contraction that's a
shortened form of a word is also counted as a full word. Like using
'em for 'them.'

An initial also counts as a word (L.L. Bean, e.e. cummings, etc.)
since it's basically an abbreviation of a full word. The only
exception is when it's part of an acronym like MGM, NASA, or IBM. The
reasoning here is that the wide use of these acronyms has in effect
made them into single words.

Remember that numbers count as words, too, expressed as either
numerals (8, 28, 500, or 1984), or as words (eight, twenty-eight,
etc.). But keep in mind our hyphenated-word rule. '"Twenty-eight' is
two words when written out, but only one when expressed as 28. Don't
cheat yourself out of an extra word that you may need.

Any punctuation is allowed, and no punctuation marks count as words,
so don't worry about being miserly with them if they work to some

Cached copy of Yes! You Can Be a Famous Writer!

"Note: In slogan comps with a word limit, there is some disagreement
over how to count contractions such as ?can?t?. Some say they count as
one word, others that they count as two.  Logically, when two words
have been glued together you then have only one word, but logic
doesn?t always come into it."

UK Skill Competitions

In view of these examples, I'd say that you can safely assume that
"AKA," "FYI," and "$600,000" are one word each. If your contest does
not publish its own guidelines regarding hyphenated words and
contractions, it might be best to forgo such words, since it seems
that there are no universally-accepted rules on these.

Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: "count OR counts as a OR one word" contest OR competition

I hope this helps! Good luck in your essay contest.

Best regards,
kenm0re-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Nice work.

Subject: Re: Word Counting
From: pinkfreud-ga on 21 Oct 2004 20:46 PDT
Many thanks for the five stars and the tip!


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy