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ChatGPT Word Limit: Here’s How to Work Around It and Get More Done

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ChatGPT Word Limit: Here’s How to Work Around It and Get More Done

A year after its release, ChatGPT has become an integral part of the everyday internet. Everywhere you turn and look there is another mention of AI, ChatGPT, Bard, Bing Chat, Claude, and other AI tools. Between drafting an email to writing a Chrome extension, ChatGPT has given life to new industries and new capabilities. 

While ChatGPT is capable of quite a bit, there are still some limitations. One notable limitation, in particular, has been imposed by OpenAI, the developers of the ChatGPT large language model. While OpenAI has never explicitly stated what the word limit is, there are instances where ChatGPT users have run into word limits. 

Let’s dive deeper into the ramifications of a ChatGPT word limit and how to get around such scenarios. 

What Is the ChatGPT Word Limit? 

While ChatGPT’s developers have never provided an exact number around a word limit, there is a general belief about what it could be. The prevailing theory is that ChatGPT-3.5 will cut off a response to any prompt at around 500 words or 4,096 characters. At least for now, this isn’t officially documented by OpenAI, but it’s widely agreed to exist. 

Perhaps the biggest question is whether this word limit exists for users of both ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4. By many accounts, there are differences in limits between ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4. If limitations exist on both ends, paying for the subscription may yield several benefits including an increased word limit. 

ChatGPT-4‘s developer, OpenAI, has historically said that ChatGPT-4 could produce a text limit of 25,000 words. This volume is also known as 8K tokens or the binary description of 25,000 words. 

Tokens

What is important to know is that while the number above is a word limit, it’s not the whole answer. The way ChatGPT processes text is done through “tokens,” which are how it processes text as numbers. Every response you ask for from ChatGPT is based on a predetermined token limit, e.g. the word limit. 

This is important as less complex words take up a single token, while more complex words use more tokens. For example, the previous sentence takes up around 29 tokens for 141 characters. You can see the exact breakdown in the image below. 

On this page, you can also see a “helpful rule of thumb” from OpenAI, which indicates approximately 4 characters of text equal a single token. In other words, 75 words would roughly equal 100 tokens being used. 

ChatGPT Token Limit
The way ChatGPT and OpenAI determine a word limit is done by tokens and character count

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Why Has ChatGPT Implemented a Word Limit? 

If ChatGPT is so powerful and all-knowing, why does a word limit need to exist in the first place? If this is your first reaction, you are not alone as Reddit is full of similar questions in r/ChatGPT. The answer is far easier to determine than understanding the actual word limit. 

As you may have guessed, ChatGPT-3.5 has become so popular so quickly, that OpenAI is using a significant amount of resources to keep up with users. Said differently, it’s costing OpenAI a lot of money to keep up with demand. 

Huge Costs

One interesting example of how expensive AI can get is an article from Reuters. This article indicates using Google Bard costs 10 times more than a general Google search. For some perspective, Google received roughly 3.3 trillion search queries in 2022 with each query costing approximately one-fifth of a cent. 

Now, Reuters hypothesizes that if Google finds that Bard (now Gemini) will soon handle 50% of all queries instead of using Google.com, it would be a $6 billion expense for Google. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, you can see where this is a very costly problem for Google and OpenAI. 

While ChatGPT does receive revenue from subscribers of ChatGPT-4, it’s still expensive to run its LLM. Circling back to the topic at hand, the Cliff Notes version of this whole section is that a word limit exists because of costs. 

How to Get Around the ChatGPT Word Limit

Ask ChatGPT to Continue

Now that we know the what and the why, it’s time to figure out how to get around the ChatGPT word limit, specifically the ChatGPT-3.5 model. The easy solution is that when you discover ChatGPT has ended its response, you simply ask it to “keep going” or “go on.” This is perhaps the most straightforward way to get ChatGPT to finish whatever text it’s returning to you. 

ChatGPT Continuing
If you need longer results, just ask ChatGPT to “keep going” and it will continue adding words.

Break Up the Response

An alternate option is to ask ChatGPT to break up its responses into parts. If you ask it for a 1,500-word blog post, make sure to specify it should be delivered in 3 different parts stopping at 500 words. This way you have provided ChatGPT with a hard stopping point and you know exactly where it’s likely to cut off. 

ChatGPT Word Limit Breakdown
Break up your ChatGPT query results into parts to avoid running into a word limit.

Self-Imposed Limits

Also, you can ask ChatGPT to simply “Write a 500-word email response to Target asking when it will have more 40oz Stanley tumblers in stock.” In the same way, you provided a self-imposed limit, ChatGPT now knows exactly where to stop. 

ChatGPT Limits
If you tell ChatGPT how many words you need exactly, you have avoided any word limits.

Create an Outline

Another option is that instead of asking ChatGPT to write a full article, essay, or vacation planning for you, ask for a detailed outline. This outline is likely to be shorter and is less likely to come up against a word limitation.

Once you have this outline, you can then go back to ChatGPT and ask it to write each section of an essay one at a time so you are avoiding the word limit. You can also write a section of this essay in no more than 500 words. Either way, you are working around the word limit and still getting the result you wanted. 

ChatGPT Outline
Creating an outline is an easy way to work around the word limit and write content yourself.

What About ChatGPT-4? 

Until we have indications otherwise, we have to presume ChatGPT-4 still has a word limit of around 25,000 characters. Even so, the same limits and rules above would apply. While the likelihood you go over 25,000 characters is less likely than those using ChatGPT-3.5, it’s worth noting you can follow all of the same steps above. Between telling ChatGPT to “go on,” or asking for your query to be broken up into parts, you can still help ChatGPT break free from its developer’s word limits. 

What About Foreign Languages? 

This is a really interesting idea to work around the word limit most people likely are not considering. Whether or not you speak a foreign language, using languages like Korean where fewer characters are required compared to English might also help get around word limits.

You can then take the result and put it into Google Translate to reword on your own. Of course, you should never take the exact output from ChatGPT and pass it off on your own. This may be tantamount to plagiarism, so it’s always best to put every ChatGPT result into your own words. 

ChatGPT Language

Getting ChatGPT results in a

Closing Thoughts

OpenAI needs to continue to be a stable business first and foremost. The last thing we want is people abusing the system and forcing OpenAI to drop the free ChatGPT-3.5 tool. For now, working around the word limitations is relatively easy and shouldn’t interfere too much with your workflow. Whether OpenAI maintains the word limit in the future is anyone’s guess. For now, if it helps OpenAI stay cash flow positive, I’m all for it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4 word limit?

The current word limit for ChatGPT-3.5 is believed to be around 4,096 words and 25,000 for ChatGPT-4. 

Why does OpenAI require a word limit?

The best answer that can be provided is that OpenAI has a significant amount of overhead, and word limits help keep costs in check. 

Is it easy to get around the word limit?

There are multiple ways to get around the word limits and they are all relatively easy to accomplish. 

Do Google Bard and Bing Chat also have a word limit?

Yes, both Google Bard and Bing Chat have a word limit, though Bing Chat can use Microsoft’s Azure platform to subsidize server space. 

Can you get in trouble with OpenAI by trying for too many words?

So far I haven’t heard of anyone being banned from using ChatGPT because of large query responses. 

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