Whenever a journal asks for "Articles should be limited to 3500 words + 5 figures/tables", do they mean the texts in the tables and figures will not be counted in the 3500 words limit?

Also, will the reference section be included in this word limit? Or, it just means only the Abstract, key-words, introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections will be bound to 3500 words limit?

  • 3
    In my experience the answer depends on the journal. Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 5:16
  • @AnonymousPhysicist The journal do not have further explanation regarding this. They just mentioned "Manuscripts that do not adhere to the following instructions will be returned to the corresponding author for technical revision before undergoing peer review." Will I first submit it, then check what they tell? Or, can I send an email to the journal regarding this? This is the first time I am submitting a paper.
    – user232597
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 5:19
  • Ask your supervisor AND check recent papers in the journal. Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 7:32
  • 1
    Ask the journal
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 9:55
  • Voted to reopen since the question is answerable. See my answer. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 9:23

1 Answer 1


That depends on the journal. Therefore you should ask them.

E.g. https://aip.scitation.org/mmm/authors/jsprep (mirror):

Contributed MMM Manuscripts should not exceed 3500 words. Abstract, title, author list, references, and acknowledgments are all excluded from the 3500-word limit. Figures, tables, and equations, however, are included and must be accounted for by calculating a word count equivalent to the space they occupy.

https://jasn.asnjournals.org/sites/default/files/ASN/PDF/jasn_ifa.pdf (mirror):

Original Articles are limited to 3500 words (including significance statement, abstract, and main text, excluding Methods) and eight data figures. Methods, references, figure legends, and tables are not included in the word count

FYI Why do so many publishing venues limit the length of paper submissions?

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