Length limit

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Many packet sets set a length limit on their questions. There is considerable variation in method of limiting the length, the actual limit, and the strictness with which the limit is enforced.

Proponents of length caps claim that they encourage crisp, clear writing, efficient use of clues rather than non-clue words, and the swift completion of many-round tournaments; opponents of such limits claim that they impede writing more than they help, particularly if the cap is very low, and may not actually save hosts much time in the running of tournaments when other disturbances (talking between questions, logistical issues, etc.) may take up more time.

Character-based limits

NAQT has both minimum and maximum numbers of characters in its tossups. (Spaces count; pronunciation guides don't count; there are other, more arcane details about which characters count.) The current limits are 260–291 characters for middle school and introductory high school questions, 375–425 for regular- and national-level high school questions and Division II collegiate play, and 460–500 for Division I collegiate play. These limits are enforced absolutely. In the first decade of the 2000s, NAQT was widely criticized for length limits, but since then, length limits (of varying types) have become much more prevalent on the circuit.

PACE uses an upper limit of 750 characters for its tossups.

No organizations are known to implement a specific character limit on bonuses. Editorial philosophies differ on the extent to which brevity is desirable in bonuses. NAQT strives to keep bonuses short (but, since about 2012, still use full sentences) because they are often used in timed play.

Line-based limits

Many circuit tournaments specify limits on length (of tossups and/or bonuses) based on the number of lines of text (measured in terms of specified fonts, sizes and layouts, such as "10-point Times New Roman with one-inch margins, pre-powermarking"). Sometimes different limits are given for initial submissions vs. final products. These limits are sometimes enforced strictly and sometimes loosely.