Q: What should I adhere to, the page limit or the word limit?

Detailed Question -

What does this mean: 'Papers should not exceed 16 manuscript pages (±7500 words), including references plus up to 8 figures or tables'? My manuscript has only 6500 words, but 15 text pages, 4 reference pages, and 8 tables and figure pages.

1 Answer to this question

You have two questions, one in the details, the other in the header. Let’s take them in that order.

Going by the submission guideline of the journal that you have stated here, the page/word count includes the main text (excluding the abstract), references, and the figures/tables. For many journals, figures/tables are included in the word/page count, but not references and keywords, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with this journal. Because figures/tables are generally included in the word count, journals also provide a page count as an indicator. That should answer your header question: you should keep both in mind.

Coming to your manuscript though, as the number of pages for your tables/graphs is quite a bit, you may need to look more at the page count. So, 6500 words is fine, and so is 15 text pages. But the number of reference pages (4) and figures/tables pages (8) is where you are having the issue. These are taking the count up to 27, which is way more than stipulated.

Adherence to guidelines is one of the initial checks journals do on receiving a manuscript. As yours exceeds by quite a bit, there is a high likelihood of it being turned down because of this. So, you could proceed in the following manner:

  • Look up other published papers from the journal to figure out how closely they follow the journal guidelines.
  • Send a presubmission inquiry to the journal to see if they will still consider it. You could provide some context as needed – as to why your page count is so high. If they are ok, great. If not, you can begin identifying some other journal without having spent unnecessary time submitting here.

If it helps, you may use any of the multiple services we provide. A few of our relevant ones in this case would be:

Additionally, these other resources around word count may also offer some insights:

Hope that helps. Good luck with your submission!