Bite-sized knowledge for the hungrily curious

How many volumes would Wikipedia fill in print?

Image by Julia Schwab from Pixabay

The Answer

According to Wikipedia’s own calculations, a print version of the text of the English language version of Wikipedia would require 2,653 volumes.

If you’re old enough to remember traditional encyclopedia sets, you’ll recall that they typically were made up of many large volumes. If you’re not old enough to remember this, you can read all about it on Encyclopædia Britannica’s Wikipedia page.

Hmm, I wonder if Britannica ever had an entry on Wikipedia… Yes, it turns out that a Wikipedia entry appeared in Encyclopædia Britannica starting in 2006.

Encyclopædia Britannica was first published in 1768 and was released in parts. By 1771 a complete set comprised some 2,500 pages over three volumes. When the final version of the 15th edition was released in 2010 there were 32 volumes made up of 32,640 pages – about 1,000 pages per volume.

As it happens, Wikipedia has an entry that answers this exact question. Because, of course, it does.

So, as of March 2, 2020 (5 days before the writing of this article) Wikipedia has “3,535,053,428 words across 6,025,000 articles” in its English language version. They have assumed that each printed volume would contain “1,333,333 words, or 2,272.5 articles” assuming 1,000 pages per volume.

The text of the English Wikipedia is currently [March 2020] equivalent to 2,652.8 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Wikipedia:Size in volumes – Wikipedia

Since it’s not possible to have 0.8 of a volume we’ll call it 2,653. So, Wikipedia would require 83 times as many volumes as the final print edition of Encyclopædia Britannica – and that’s even without any images.

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