I got my paper back with remarks of the copy editor. One annotation counts the number of characters in a line. I have been told to ignore it, but I am still interested to know what it is for.

On the bottom of the page, the copy editor wrote: "73 × 39 × 27 → 25p.". 73 is the number of characters, 27 is the number of pages of my manuscript. 39 is the number of lines per page minus 1. It seems to be a calculation for the final number of pages (judging from the "p.") but I don't see how that figure would be calculated by multiplying these values.

I am using a template provided by the journal.

  • Odd. I've copyedited lots of manuscripts but never ran into this notation. Can you tell if the copyeditor is an employee of the publisher or if the publisher outsourced the copyediting? If the latter, a possibility is that the rate the copyeditor is charging is based on the number of characters. This would be rather unusual though; most charge by the number of words.
    – Allure
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 23:23
  • @Allure I'm not sure, but I think he is an employee. It may be an ancient notation. With the scanned annotations, I got a second file summarising the comments. That list was written on an old school typewriter and scanned as well!
    – user25112
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


73 x 39 x 27 would give an estimate of the total number of characters in your manuscript. They presumably have some standard estimate for the number of characters that fit on one page in the final format, and they've divided by that number (not shown) to get 25 pages.

I can't think of a good reason to subtract 1 from the number of lines per page (unless one line is obviously a header or something) so I'd wonder if they just miscounted.

  • Maybe I miscounted. Yes, this must be it. My 27 is higher than 25 because of more figures than usually, I think. Thank you, my mind has been put to rest.
    – user25112
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 22:58
  • 1
    Just brainstorming... If you subtract 1, you get the number of interline spacings that appear in your article. That may be useful, for instance, if you submitted your article with double spacing and they want to know how much space they would save if they switched to single spacing, or if they want to make the spacing larger or smaller. But I realize that's not a very common use case, so that's probably not the correct justification (ha). Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 7:15

A common rule of thumb is 3000 characters per single-spaced page. Applying that to the numbers you've given would work out at 25.6 pages, consistent with the CE's estimate depending on how you choose to round.

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