Word limits and word count guidelines

This page includes information on word limit and word count guidelines, including what is included in a word count, where to include it in your assessment, and applying word limits.

Word limit and word count guidelines are clearly stated for all assessments.

Check the assessment instructions in your course in iQualify to see whether word limit or word count guidelines apply. You can find these in the Task or Assessment tab in your course in iQualify.

Word count guidelines

  • Word count guidelines are the recommended word count for an assessment.
  • They help you to understand the expectation of workload for an assessment.
  • There are no penalties for not meeting the word count guideline.

Word limits

  • Word limits are the word count that you must keep within to avoid a penalty.
  • We use them when writing in a concise and focused manner is an important skill to develop. Word limits are clearly stated in the assessment task.


Applying word limits

Your completed assessment should not be more than 10% over the word count guideline or word limit.

For assessments with a word limit, if the assessment you submit is longer than 110% of the word limit, marking will stop at 110% of the word limit. This is the penalty for going 10% over the word limit. We will give you feedback on the marked part of your assessment.

For fail grades, where course regulations allow, you will be able to resubmit the assessment.


Including a word count

When to include a word count  will depend on your course:

  • For most assessments write your word count at the end of the assessment. This goes before the references and appendices.
  • If we provide a title page template to use, the word count goes on the title page. For example, many psychology courses assessments use a title page.

What to include in your word count

A word count is the number of words in your assessment, including any headings.

Microsoft Word and other similar software provide a word count. In Microsoft Word this is on the bottom left of the page, but we suggest you select the text you want to check the word count of and go to the 'Review' tab and click ‘Word Count’.

What not to include in your word count

The following are not included in the word count:

  • title page
  • reference list
  • abstracts
  • tables and table headings
  • figures and figure headings
  • footnotes and endnotes
  • appendices.

Got a question?

If you want to talk with someone about word limits and word count guidelines, contact The Library and Learning Centre|Te Whare Pukapuka Wāhanga Whakapakari Ako. 

Contact the Library and Learning Centre


Related information

Formatting and presenting assessments