Should we move from page limit to word limit?

Several people have argued that we should:

  1. change from having a page limit (2/4/6 pages) for paper submissions to a word limit instead.
  2. do not count references as part of the text.

But: what should then the word limits be? I did a quick check of the word counts of previous papers, and have written up a blog post with the findings. From this, I see that the main text of most papers are around 2000-4500 words. So perhaps a good way of thinking about it could be:

  • Demo papers: 1000 words
  • Short papers: 2000 words
  • Long papers: 4000 words

More extensive contributions could possibly end up in a future NIME journal. :slight_smile:

What do you think?


Cool blog post! Interesting info, and I end up learning about some neat tools.

May I ask why exactly people want to move away from the page limit?

I fear that a word limit (assuming that the page limit is no more) could encourage authors to overload the paper with figures, in opposition to prepare useful appendices or online material, like nice blogs or lab’s project pages ;). I wouldn’t like to come across a 15-page, 4000 words full of images.

I really like the second suggestion, though. It helps a lot for reference readability: authors don’t need to abbreviate everything or suppress information to fit the references.

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One reason is to explore other formats than PDFs for delivery (read: HTML), and then it doesn’t make sense to think about the concept of “pages”. Another is to allow for more multimedia-rich presentation formats, in which case PDF files don’t work either. And, finally, because having a fixed page-format including references, lead to cutting down on references. Other conferences, including SMC and ISMIR, I think, have also decided to leave references outside of the page count.

That said, I agree that there are some positive sides of having limits on the page numbers.

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I totally agree that in 2020 (post printed-proceeding era) a hard-limit on the page does not make sense anymore (and it penalizes references, illustrations, images, etc.). The main limit should be on the word count. Then we should have a side limit of max number of pages to avoid authors to submit 20 pages full of pictures, let’s say max 8 or 10 pages independent of the category.


+1 what @stefanofasciani wrote, I am of the same advice.

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I am definitely in favour of removing the references from the page/word limit. Your proposed limits (1000,2000,4000 words) look good to me. Perhaps 4000 words would not be not enough for some submissions, but - as you said - these can end up in a NIME journal instead. Plus, we need to consider that longer submissions = more demanding job for the reviewers. Not a deal breaker, but something to consider!


I really like the idea of a word limit instead of a page limit. I think any new practice should encourage the use of illustrations and diagrams, and remove limits that discourage extensive references.


+1 to removing references from the limit, regardless of what type of limit it is.

It is good to provide some incentive for authors to be brief. I kind of like page limits to be honest, but would like a longer-form option, say 8 or 10 pages.


For the conference? Or would that be a possibly future journal article?

I was thinking 8 or 10 pages for the conference, assuming that’s still the only mode of publication, but if we have a journal then a lot more options open up.

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In fact, if we continue with a complete/partial conference experience, possibly combined with a rolling submission deadline, we are quite close to a “conference-journal”-format…