Skip to Content

Wizard Spell Slots 5e D&D + Spellbooks Explained!

Ready to set your foes aflame and cause some magical mayhem? Then make an arcana check, and explore Wizard spell slots in 5e D&D.

This article has everything you need to get your DnD Wizard casting: the rules of spell slots, how spellbooks work, and even some roleplaying tips. Scroll on spell slingers!

elven wizard looking at a spell
Image: Wizards of the Coast. Artist: Bram Sels.

How Do Spell Slots Work Wizard 5e?

Sure, “cast a spell” makes it sound simple, but tapping into magical forces and bending them to your will is hard work!

Hi! This post may contain affiliate links to online stores. If you use a link and buy something, I may get a commission at no extra cost to you. See my affiliate disclosure.

No matter how many spells a Wizard knows or has in their spellbook, they can only cast a certain number of spells before needing to rest. The number of spells they can cast is represented by spell slots.

Here are the basic rules of how spell slots work for Wizards in D&D 5e.

  • You can only cast as many spells as you have spell slots
  • Wizards get a certain number of spell slots for each level, 1-9
  • Spells need to be cast using a slot of the same level or higher
  • When you cast a spell you expend the spell slot until it is recovered

More of a visual learner? You can also think about spell slots like this.

Remember those little puzzles kids have where you push the right sized block through the holes in a box? Imagine a spell slot as one of these holes. They start small at level 1, then get bigger as the spell slot level increases.

The spells are our blocks, and they start small and increase in size too. A level 1 spell fits into a level 1 spell slot, but a level 2 spell is too large for a level 1 slot – you can’t use lower-level spell slots to cast higher level spells.

But, the dinky level 1 spell can fit into any slot level 1 or larger – just like how you can cast some spells at higher levels.

How Many Spell Slots Does a Wizard Have 5e?

Ripplewink the Grandiloquent has finally graduated from Arcane University.

To tell the number of wizard spells of each level she can cast, look at the Wizard syllabus AKA the Wizard spell slot table found in the class description in the Player’s Handbook.

Page 113, Dungeon & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

How to Determine How Many Spell Slots You Have

If your character is just a straight up Wizard, see the table above to calculate your spells slots based on character level.

Multiclassing two caster classes, on the other hand, gets complicated. Check out the multiclassing section of our Spell Slots in D&D 5e Overview for a rundown!

How Many Times Can You Use a Spell Slot?

You can only use a spell slot once before recovering it with a long rest or Arcane Recovery. However, the slots are not tied to a specific spell.

Say you have three 3rd level spell slots available. With them, you can cast any variation of three spells of 3rd level or lower: three of the same 3rd level, three different 3rd level, one 3rd level one 2nd level, and one 1st level spell, etc.

How Do You Recover Spell Slots?

A Wizard regains all their spells slots after a long rest (8 hours at least of downtime).

Then at level two Wizards get a class feature that help them regain slots in a pinch.

Arcane Recovery

Don’t have time to find a bed? The Arcane Recovery class feature has you covered:

You have learned to regain some of your magical energy by studying your spellbook. Once per day when you finish a short rest, you can choose expended spell slots to recover. The spell slots can have a combined level that is equal to or less than half your wizard level (rounded up), and none of the slots can be 6th level or higher.

Page 115, Dungeon & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

This feature can only be utilized once a day, but it sure helps when you’re most of the way through a dungeon and out of everything except Acid Splash and Mage Hand with the boss still to come!

How Do You Expend Spell Slots in 5e?

To “expend” a spell slot simply means to use it up by casting a spell.

Some classes can exchange spell slots for other effects (like the Font of Magic feature for Sorcerers), but Wizards don’t have this built-in.

How to Track Spell Slots

You can track your spell slots using the Spellcasting page of the character sheet and a pencil. But writing and rubbing out on that page will start to look messy pretty quickly! So here are a couple of other suggestions

DIY Whiteboard

Consider using a dry erase marker and cheap, plastic page protector as a DIY whiteboard to keep track. That you can mark down how many spell slots you have, fill them in with the dry erase marker when you do your spell preparation, and easily wipe each slot away as you use it. This’ll save you about a billion scraps of notepaper.

Spell Tracker Scroll

spell tracker scroll
Image: Arrow Road Creations

Or, if you want something a bit fancier and that fits perfectly with the D&D aesthetic, then take a look at this spell tracker scroll on Etsy.

You can choose whether you want an elven, dwarven or infernal variation, change the color of the tracker tokens, and opt for hand-painted too if you like! Love painting? You can buy the 3d printed unpainted version and make it truly your own.

Do Wizards Have the Most Spell Slots?

Wizards are one of the classes with the most spells slots. Tied with Bards, Clerics, Druids and Sorcerers for number of slots, they are considered “full casters” and have spell slots available to them right from the get go at level 1.

Spells That Don’t Use Spell Slots


Every caster’s favorite freebie, the cantrip, is a spell that has small effects but endless uses.

A cantrip:

  • Does not use a spell slot
  • Doesn’t need to be prepared
  • Can be cast at will
  • Is spell level 0

Examples of cantrips include Mending, Fire Bolt, and Light.

Ritual Casting

Ritual spells are a special type of spell that don’t use up a spell slot.

Certain spells have a special tag: ritual. Such a spell can be cast following the normal rules for spellcasting, or the spell can be cast as a ritual. The ritual version of the spell takes 10 minutes longer to cast than normal.

It also doesn’t expend a spell slot, which means the ritual version of a spell can’t be cast at a higher level.

Page 201-202, Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

Usually, for a class to cast a ritual, the spell must be prepared. However, Wizards, are an exception. Wahoo!

You can cast a Wizard spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your spellbook. You don’t need to have the spell prepared.

Page 114, Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

Alarm and Comprehend Language are two examples of spells that can be cast as rituals.

How Many Spells Can You Use In a Turn?

In most cases, you can only use one spell per turn. But! There are a number of tricky little ways to sneak around this.

Before we get into the tricksy bits, we need to talk about the basic rules of combat and turn taking.

Actions in Combat and Spellcasting

During combat, on your turn you can move a distance equal to or below your speed and take one action. The actions you are allowed to take are: Attack, Cast a Spell, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, Help, Hide, Ready, Search, or Use an Object.

Casting a spell would count as your one action for a turn, and most spells have a casting time of “1 action.” Still with me? Great, cause now it gets interesting.

You may also have the option to take a bonus action. These aren’t just free actions growing on trees – a class feature or spell must specifically allow it.

Bonus Action Spells

Some spells can be cast as a bonus action. Look for the telltale “casting time: 1 bonus action” in the description, like Ensnaring Strike.

Since you get one bonus action per turn, you can cast one spell as a bonus and one as a normal action.

However, bonus action spell casting isn’t as OP as it may seem at first.

[If you cast a spell as a bonus action] you can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

Page 202, Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

Wizards couldn’t make it that easy for us. Just plan ahead if you want to use this tactic so you can really make that bonus spell and cantrip count.

Fighter’s Action Surge

The only way to cast more than one leveled spell during your turn as a Wizard is to multiclass at least 2 levels of Fighter.

Fighters get Action Surge at level 2 which lets them take one additional action – and possible bonus action – in a turn. It’s only usable once per short or long rest, which means no infinite combos for you cheeky beans out there.

What to Do When You Run Out of Spell Slots?

What can a Wizard do when they run out of spell slots? Cry? Or, try melee?! Le gasp!

Don’t wig out, noddle-armed little Wizzies. Because with a little planning ahead and creative resourcefulness, you can be ready for any situation – even running out of Fireballs.

These are perfect things to have on hand for when spell slots get scarce!

  • Scroll scrolls scrolls! If you have the GP and a hookup, you can buy almost any spell in the form of a one-time-use scroll. My wizard, Ripplewink is particularly fond of always packing a spare Scroll of Invisibility to duck out of hairy situations!
  • Items that absorb incoming spells and turn them into spell slots to be used later – like magical compost, but less smelly! Rod of Absorption is excellent for recycled slots, but also protecting you from baddie spellcasters.
  • Some items let you regain a single spell slot per day, like Pearl of Wisdom. These little guys aren’t crazy powerful, but every little helps!
  • Don’t forget about the little spells that could: cantrips don’t use spell slots! If you get creative with your cantrips you can make a whole mess of trouble for your foes. Ripplewink far prefers spamming Acid Splash to using a melee weapon with her *ahem* modest strength score.
  • Lastly, if you’re not in a hurry (or being menaced by a hobgoblin with a greataxe) use ritual casting whenever possible. It’ll save you spell slots, so you’ll be better prepared for long slogs.

How Do You Get More Spell Slots in Wizard 5E?

Image: Wizards of the Coast. Artist: Matt Stewart.

The only way to increase your spell slots in D&D 5e is to advance in level. It is possible to add spells to your spellbook in a variety of ways… but that only adds to total spells known, not slots.

There are a few Wizard class features that can help, though they don’t kick in until higher levels.

For example, you get Spell Mastery at 18th level which essentially turns one 2nd level and one 1st level spell into cantrips. This doesn’t technically add spell slots, but it’s like not having to spend them to begin with… which is almost the same thing.

Then at 20th level, you get the class feature Signature Spells. This allows you to have two 3rd level spells always prepared and ready to cast for free once every short rest – no spell slots necessary.

Learning Spells

How Many Wizard Spells Do You Get Per Level?

When your character starts their journey as a level one Wizard, they get one spellbook containing six different level 1 Wizard spells of your choice.

Every time you level up as a Wizard, you can add two more wizard spells to your spellbook.

You have to pick spells of a level that they have spells slots for (as shown on the Wizard spells table), and only from the wizard spell list, but otherwise can choose whichever you want.

During level up, you can even swap old spells out for new ones of the same level. Has the novelty of hoverboarding around on Tenser‘s Floating Disc finally worn off? Ditch it and take Grease out for a spin.

How Many Spells and Cantrips Can a Wizard Have?

Wizards can learn spells by leveling, but say Ripplewink finds another Wizard’s spellbook in some dusty chest in an abandoned lab… if the spells inside are on the Wizard spell list, she can copy them into her own spellbook!

There’s no limit to how many spells of level 1 or higher that you can copy into your spellbook. But you still gotta find the spells to add. Easier said than done.

Copying only works for leveled spells though, not for cantrips. Even if you find them “in the wild,” cantrips cannot be added to your spellbook. Barring some racial traits and feats, the limit on cantrips is the number of “cantrips known” listed on your Wizard spell table.

How does Ripplewink copy cool new spells into her spellbook? We’ll get into that in a minute!

Spellcasting Focus

Some spells require a material component to cast. Ripplewink has a few options for how to satisfy this. She can pick any of the following:

  • Already have or gather the materials listed in the spell’s requirements
  • Use a component’s pouch (25 GP)
  • Have an arcane focus to channel the power:
    a crystal (10 gp), orb (20 gp), rod (10 gp), staff (5 gp), or wand (10 gp)

Pick an arcane focus as unique as your Wizard! Are you playing a Romany fortune teller? A crystal ball (orb) might be perfect. An upper-crust lady sent to magical finishing school? Maybe a crystal in an ornate diadem.

It’s also an excellent opportunity to get into character. Who doesn’t feel more wizardly when they’ve got a mystical staff to wield? Heck, go full-on Harry Potter style and wave your wand when casting! Go ahead, get a little wild looking at wands on Etsy. You know you want to.

See? Requirements like an arcane focus aren’t just meaningless rules text – it’s built into the rules to help you visualize and engage with your character building! Who knew reading the rules could be so fun?

Spellcasting Ability

While getting all your spell slots in order, you may also wonder how to power spells up. Not just more spells, but more effective spells.

One way to make your spells better at hitting the mark and harder for foes to dodge is by maximizing your spellcasting ability and increasing your spell attack bonus. When a spell says to add the caster’s spellcasting ability modifier, for a Wizard that is your Intelligence modifier.

Wanna know more about increasing your magical powers? Check out our DnD Spellcasting Ability 5e and Spell Attack Bonus articles!

Wizard Spellbook and Learning Spells

How Do Wizards Use Spellbooks?

Using Your Spellbook In the Game

A Wizard’s spellbook is entirely unique to its caster – the look, notations, smell (kidding!). The intricate notes in a Wizard’s spellbook are also indispensable to their ability to cast spells and learn new ones.

Because it’s so important to their magical abilities, some Wizards take the time to record all their learned spells in a backup spellbook as well as the original. Copying their own spells takes 1 hour and 10 gp per level of spell.

It may sound paranoid, but losing a spellbook has serious consequences. You can only remember the spells you had prepared.

If you lose your spellbook, you can use the [spell copying] procedure to transcribe the spells that you have prepared into a new spellbook. Filling out the remainder of your spellbook requires you to find new spells to do so, as normal.

Page 114, Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

At lower levels, it isn’t quite as dire to lose your spellbook. But once you’ve amassed an impressive arcane collection, that Tiefling Rogue escaping with your grimoire could put a serious dent in your magical knowledge!

Using Your Spellbook Outside of the Game

If Ripplewink the professional Wizard needs a reference book for her spells, we (the players) can certainly benefit from the same.

Six spells to start off with is quite a lot, especially for newer players. So, take some advice from your character and write it all down! Not only will you remember better what each spell does, but you’ll be able to reference it quickly and with flair.

The perfect spellbook IRL is another way to get into character, too! You will feel 500% more Wizardly when flipping the pages of an arcane volume, esoteric tome, or gloriously gothic grimoire of your very own. Here’s my spellbook (with an accompanying wand that I hand crafted!).

Going for a classic, mystical academic vibe like mine? Take a quick browse of some of our favorite luxuriant, eye-catching journals on Amazon called Book of Shadows by KGN Handicraft. They even have beautiful blank-aged paper pages.

Or maybe you’re playing a Necromancer and would prefer something spooky, timeless, and bound in skin to cackle over? Take a stroll through the wonderful world of weird Etsy sellers like this Hocus Pocus inspired journal or this Necronomicon tribute.

Can Wizards Use Other Spellbooks?

Not really. A Wizard cannot directly prepare spells from another caster’s spellbook.

But, they may be able to copy them into their own! See below for details on how to do it.

Can a Wizard Copy Another Wizard’s Spellbook?

The big hurdle to copying another person’s spellbook, is that each magician uses their own personal notations and expresses their spells differently from every other caster. So, spellbooks are almost written in a kind of unique code.

If the spells are on the Wizard spell list, a Wizard can take time to decipher another caster’s spells into their own spellbook. It takes 2 hours per spell level and the material requirements cost 50gp.

However, this only works for level one spells and higher – no cantrip copying!

How Many Spells Can a Wizard Put in Their Spellbook?

If time, gold, and spells are plentiful a Wizard can have as many Wizard spells in their spellbook as they want.

Each school of magic has a Savant feature that makes learning a spell of your chosen school easier. They all follow the same formula. Here’s the one for the School of Evocation.

Evocation Savant

Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy an evocation spell into your spellbook is halved.

Page 115, Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook 5th edition.

Conclusion – Wizard Spell Slots 5e D&D + Spellbooks Explained

Feeling befuddled about how many spells you’ve got left, or whether cantrips casting should be kept track of? It comes down to knowing the ins & outs of Wizard spell slots in 5e D&D.

We hope the rules and examples laid out in this article has enlightened you to the power & practicality of spell slots. Go forth with your new knowledge and be the best Wizard you can be!

Remember to check out the spell tracker scroll and spellbooks on Etsy. For more D&D accessories for players see my favorites in this article!

You may also like these TTRPG articles

emily sargeantson profile pic

Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

Buy me a coffee at Ko-Fi button

Join the My Kind of Meeple newsletter!

Exclusive email updates! New Strategies, Kickstarter Picks, What I'm Playing + Special Extras!

Thanks for joining!

Your email is only used for updates and email-based ad targetting. (Ads keep this site free!) You can view the terms & can opt-out of email-based ad targetting here.