How Strict are Word Counts in Articles?

If a publisher wants 1000 words can it be 10 or 20 either way? Getting exactly 1000 or 1500 without going over or under is almost impossible. Or is it? This might seem trivial but I really want to know.

Thank you for your time.


One of the stressful parts of print publishing is that each article must fit into a specific, pre-assigned spot in a magazine/newspaper. Going over or under by only 20 words can seriously impact the end-result of the layout of that entire page. So, when an editor says 1000 words, they mean 1000 words. While I would say 999 words or 1001 words would probably go undetected, to stay in high favor with an editor and to land future assignments, give them 1000. If you don’t cut it, the editor will need to fix it and, trust me, they hate that. You know your article better than anybody and you are the one best suited to cut/add material.