Wikipedia:Size comparisons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article compares the size of Wikipedia with other encyclopedias and information collections.

Source material from which Wikipedia statistics in this article are derived is available;[1] the Footnote on WikiStatistics section at the end of this page provides technical discussion of this article.


An image estimating the size of a printed version of Wikipedia as of February 2022. (Up-to-date image using volumes of Encyclopædia Britannica)

Currently, the English Wikipedia alone has over 6,826,307 articles of any length, and the combined Wikipedias for all other languages greatly exceed the English Wikipedia in size, giving more than 29 billion words in 55 million articles in 309 languages.[2] The English Wikipedia alone has over 4.3 billion words,[3] and has over 95 times as many words as the 120-volume English-language Encyclopædia Britannica (online), and more words than the enormous 119-volume Spanish-language Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana.

In 2005, the English-language Wikipedia more than doubled in size, and many smaller Wikipedias have grown by a higher multiple.

In June 2011, there were more than 11 million articles in all Wikipedias and 3.6 million in the English version.[2][3]

Wikipedia is still in need of much expansion and improvement. Many of the articles are of poor quality and some mainstream encyclopedia topics are not covered adequately. In addition, the average article length is only a little over half the size of that in Encyclopædia Britannica, although many major articles are considerably longer.[citation needed] Over time the balance of the editorial effort is expected to slowly tilt towards a greater emphasis on increasing the quality, scope, classification and interlinkage of existing articles. However, new articles will probably always be created in large numbers, as Wikipedia's conventions on acceptable article topics incorporate huge numbers of potential new articles every year (newly prominent people, current events, media products, physical products, etc.). In mid-2006, the rate of new article creation was still rising, but only slowly. As of January 2007, it looked as if the rate of article creation may have peaked in mid-2006, though subsequent analysis may show otherwise. See Wikipedia:Modelling Wikipedia's growth for more on Wikipedia's growth rate and expected future size.

Other online encyclopedic resources[edit]

There are many other online databases which combine several encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries and allow users to search all of the works simultaneously. One example is Oxford Reference Online—a database of 221 encyclopedias and encyclopedic dictionaries, offering about 1.4 million articles as of 2011, with expansions planned for the future.[4] Another example is Xrefplus, which offers access to 262 encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books.[5] This all added up to about 2.9 million entries when the database had 225 titles.[6] There also is HighBeam Research and GaleNet. GaleNet—which is likely the largest named so far—offers users the ability to search several encyclopedia databases, including the Biography Resource Center (1,335,000 people), Gale Virtual Reference Library (594 reference books),[7] and the Science Resource Center (51 titles),[8] among others.

Paper encyclopedias[edit]

The largest paper encyclopedia ever produced is possibly the Yongle Encyclopedia, completed in 1407 in 11,095 books, 370 million Chinese characters and commissioned by the Yongle Emperor.[9] The individual books that made up the encyclopedia were small by modern standards; the work was twelve times the size of the 20 million word French Encyclopédie,[10] giving 240 million words, or 21,600 words per book, although it is unclear if that is how it differs from the Encyclopédie in size. It is also unclear if it is twelve times larger than the original 28-volume version of the Encyclopédie completed in 1772 or the 35-volume version completed in 1780. The Yung-lo ta-tien was a collection of excerpts and entire existing works, rather than an original work. Only two copies were made and all that survives is a small fraction of one copy.

Comparison of encyclopedias[edit]

Numbers regarding total characters are based on an estimated average word length of five, plus a space, or six characters per word.

Encyclopedias by size
Encyclopedia Edition Articles
Est. characters
Average words
per article
Wikipedia English 6,820+ 4,300+ 26,000+ 654 (formerly Hudong) (Chinese Wiki) Nov 2009 3,920+ 4,300+ 1,097
Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (四庫全書)* 1782 800
Yongle Encyclopedia (永樂大典) * 1403 370[11] / 770[12]
Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana 1933 1,000+ 200 1,000
Complete Classics Collection of Ancient China (古今圖書集成) 1725 100
Encyclopedia of China (中国大百科全书) 1993 80 126.4 1,580
Die Brockhaus Enzyklopädie 2006 300+ 33 ?
Enciclopedia italiana 1939 60§ 50 247 833
Nationalencyklopedin 183**
Encyclopædia Britannica 2013 40[13] 44 650
Encyclopædia Britannica Online 120 55 300 370
Great Soviet Encyclopedia 1978 100 21†† 200 570
Encyclopédie 1751–1780 72 20 278
Microsoft Encarta Encarta Deluxe 2002 70‡‡ 40 200 600
Microsoft Encarta Encarta Deluxe 2005** 63 40 200 200
Microsoft Encarta 2002 Encarta Encyclopedia 40 26 200 200
Encyclopedia Americana 2006 45[14] 25 556
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia Online 39[15] 11 70 280
Columbia Encyclopedia Sixth ed. 2000 51 6.5 40 130
Meyers Konversations-Lexikon Fourth ed. 1888–92 97 15.5 110
Encyclopædia Universalis 13th ed. 2008 41.5 60 350 1,450
Ottův slovník naučný 1888–1908 150 ? 130 ?

*Classical Chinese is a very compact language. The result is very short articles for the same content.

It is said that the Yongle Encyclopedia is larger than the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries, but it is uncertain how they were compared.

Kenneth F. Kister, Kister's best encyclopedias: a comparative guide to general and specialized encyclopedias, (1994) p. 450. [Article count is for the 82-volume edition, rather than the 119-volume one.]

§Alfieri, G. Treccani Degli. "Enciclopedia italiana" Diccionario Literario (2001 HORA, S.A.)

**Number of encyclopedic articles. The Nationalencyklopedin totals 356,000 entries.

††Kister, op. cit., p. 365.

**Includes 10,000 historical archives.

‡‡Advertised as containing "over 63,000 articles...with 36,000-plus map locations, and over 29,000 editor-approved Web site links." The 2006 Premium CD-ROM had 68,000 articles.[16]

Advertised as containing 41,500 articles written by 6,803 authors, 60 million of words, 350 million of characters, 360,000 links, 122,000 definitions in the included dictionary, 130,000 bibliographical references.[17]

Size of other information collections[edit]

Note that Wikipedia is neither a dictionary nor a web index; these figures are just for order-of-magnitude comparison.



  • The World Resources Institute claims that approximately 1.4 million species have been named, out of an unknown number of total species. A 2011 study says there are 8,700,000 species (6,500,000 land species, 2,200,000 marine species).[18]


Film and television[edit]




  • Over 25 billion web pages with over 1 trillion unique URLs were known to Google on February 24, 2006.
  • Netcraft logged roughly 40.5 million distinct websites in January 2018.
  • As of April 2013, the DMOZ web index claims to have over 1 million categories for over 5 million websites.
  • As of August 2011, Internet Archive claims to have indexed over 150 billion pages, +548,000 moving images, +82,000 concerts, +948,000 recordings and +2,945,000 texts.




  • The British Library is known to hold over 170 million items.
  • The Library of Congress claims that it holds approximately 167 million items, 14 million of which are electronically searchable.
  • Copac is a searchable electronic catalogue of over 40 million books held in libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland (includes all electronic records from the British Library)


  • The freedb database holds information for nearly 2 million compact discs. Many of the disks are duplicates, however, so the number of unique CDs is unclear.
  • The AllMusic database contains entries for over 3 million releases, and over 30 million tracks as of As of 2017.
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition, claims "25 million words with over 29,000 articles" about the subject of music alone.
  • As of August 2011, Jamendo project contains over 50,000 free and open albums.


  • Thomson-Gale's Biography Resource Center contains over 1,335,000 biographies. 335,000 are essays, while over a million are thumbnail entries.[5]
  • The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has over 50,000 articles on famous Britons, in 50 million words (implying an average article size of 1000 words).
  • The old British Dictionary of National Biography had over 50,000 articles in 50 million words.

Science and technology[edit]

  • The Espacenet free online service contains records on more than 90 million patent publications from the European Patent Office patent databases.
  • The Inspec database contains over 17 million abstracts.
  • The Ei Compendex database contains over 18 million records.
  • The Elsevier Biobase database contains over 4.1 million records.
  • The IEEE Xplore database contains over 4.5 million records.

The cost of a printed Wikipedia[edit]

The Print Wikipedia project published all of the English Wikipedia text, without photos, as of 2015 in 7473 volumes with 700 pages each (5.2 million pages in total). Lulu is willing to sell each volume for US$80, and the whole set for US$500,000.[22]

As of July 2015, there were approximately 23 billion characters. Assuming 5,000 characters per page that would yield 4.6 million pages. If you then add 25% for extra space for photos, tables, and diagrams, that would yield 5.75 million pages. This would produce 14,375 volumes of 400 pages each. As an example, allowing US$0.05 per page would yield a cost of US$287,500 without binding.

Footnote on Wikipedia statistics[edit]

Very detailed statistics for almost all aspects of Wikipedia are available from

Statistics for this page are taken from the Article count (alternate) table and from the Words table.

Excluding redirect pages, there are roughly (using figures from September 1, 2006):

  • 1.4 million articles that have at least a single link.
  • 1.3 million articles that have at least a single link and 200 readable characters (roughly equivalent to at least 33 words).

Taking the difference of these two figures, there are about:

  • 100,000 articles that have at least a single link but fewer than 200 characters.

There is also an uncounted number of articles which have no links. The current statistics provide no indication of the size of this last category. The 609 million words in fact span the 1.3 million bona fide articles, the remaining 100,000 linked articles, and the unknown number of articles without links. A rough estimate of the word count in the latter two categories is ten million words. Dividing the remaining 600 million words by 1.3 million gives a mean article length of about 460 words.

Further, of the articles on the English Wikipedia, perhaps 36,000 are "data dumped" gazetteer entries about towns and cities in the United States. It is controversial whether gazetteer entries should count towards the number of "real" encyclopedia articles; however, their statistical significance is very much less now than in October 2002 when they were added. Very many have been colonised by Wikipedians who have transformed them to varying extents, in some cases to an unimpeachably encyclopedic status.

See also[edit]