[ This article was first published in the August, 2008, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]
Gregory Ikens sent this to Philip Hodgetts who sent it to me:
The following word count timings should assist you in determining how many words will comfortably fit within a specified amount of time in a spot. This guide assumes a “normal” rate of speech (neither fast nor slow) and a basic “announcer” read.
Please note that for phone numbers, each spoken number = 1 word.
(i.e., 1-877-000-0000 = 11 words)
WORD COUNT TIMINGS
WORDS SECONDS 7 words 3 seconds 12 words 5 seconds 17 words 7 seconds 23 words 10 seconds 35 words 15 seconds 70 words 30 seconds 140 words 60 seconds
Larry replies: I love trivia like this. Thanks!
19 Responses to Counting Words for Voice-Over Timing
This tool allows you to have an estimate of how much time will you need to read a text, whether it is a speech or a voice over/narration for a multimedia production: http://www.speechwordcount.com
Love it, Thanks!
[…] 2. https://larryjordan.com/articles/counting-words-for-voice-over-timing/. Accessed October 10, 2017. […]
Yep. It’s a common problem that phone numbers in ad scripts get left out of the word count… and are considered one word!
And if you’re really unlucky, they’ll through in a www web address, not realising each ‘w’ is two words – double you.
How many words are in 17 seconds
Take the number of words for 60 seconds and divide by four. That will get you close enough for planning.
Two! ’17’ and ‘seconds’!
Hi, Larry: A number of years ago my work in radio and TV caused me to learn how many words to allow when writing News script or whatever. Later as Vice President of PR in a Toastmasters Club I taught people how to figure out how many words to include in their WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY & HOW’s for a Press Release.
But that was a number of years ago and now I’m requested to do so again but have “lost” all my resources until I ran across you. Thank You;-).
Happy to help. Welcome back to the weird world of media!
YOU are really on top of things, Larry! Would be lovely if your energy and efficiency was/is contagious. Speaking of which, I volunteer with the M.O.W.W., and our major endeavor is an annual 3 1/2 day YOUTH LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.
Because I, like many of our Volunteers,am well past retirement age, former skills like Shorthand and Typing, that stood me in good stead back during the Vietnam War, gave me an advantage over other Reporters who grabbed a word here and there for a quote and filled in the rest.
With hindsight, I describe myself as a cross between Barbara Walters and Forest Gump;-). But those skills help little in today’s high tech age, so I’m wondering if you might suggest how us “old folks” might make good use of cameras/whatever to capture some of our outstanding Speakers (One was Michael Durant, the protagonist in “Black Hawk Down,” another a War-time General, etc.,) as well as our students’ presentations, for fund raising PR as well as inspiring archives.
My suggestion is just grab your camera and record an interview. Keep it short, then look at it. The best way to learn is by doing.
Once you have a system that works – and creates reasonably good looking images – you can start to get serious about recording your speakers.
The key is don’t try to be perfect – you’ll never start. Instead, just start. Watch your work. Practice making it better. The more you do, the better you’ll get.
Then, after a while, all the younger folks will be turning to you for advice.
Larry I’m a little concerned that you are pretending to be other people in the comments because of how simple and standard every bodies name is. To me this is a little bit suss because how am I meant to trust your judgement if you’re pretending to be other people on the internet, tonight I will test your ‘counting words for voice-over timing and will and will speak in the way that these numbers have come up. I hope i won’t be disappointed…
Smile. I have NEVER posted a comment using any name but my own.
The thought never occurred to me.
Larry – I on a deadline writing some VOs and happened upon your website. You made my day and then some!
I will have to come back when I get past crunch time, as it looks like there is lots & lots I can learn from you. Apologies for the overkill on the alliteration.
Dear Real Person:
I’m happy I could help. (And, the reason your comment didn’t post immediately is because all comments are moderated (meaning approved) in order to reduce spam – which is overwhelming these days.)
Here’s the link to all my tutorials: https://larryjordan.com/free-tutorials/
As someone who records VO for a living, I can tell you that 99.98% of voiceover scripts are overwritten and have to be re-written to fit in to the allotted time. I see this time & time again in the commercial world where a certain amount of product & legal copy absolutely have to make it into the final script.
One of the best ways to determine the running length of your script is to read it OUT LOUD (not silently to yourself or at a whisper), fully enunciating the words using a NORMAL, conversational pace–DO NOT RUSH–and time it with a stopwatch. Yes, you may still have to rewrite AND ask your actor to pick up the pace, but you’ll have a better gauge as to the actual length of your copy. 🙂
This is a great comment.
I agree. Nothing beats reading your script out loud.
I’ve been using this site for years. It works great!
Good to know.