Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: A Quick-and-Dirty Word Count.

A Quick-and-Dirty Word Count

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 29, 2017)

In other issues of WordTips you learn how you can use one of Word's fields to insert a word count in your document. Many authors, editors, and publishers adhere to the rule that you determine word count by dividing the number of characters in your document by an average word size, such as 5. Thus, if there were 24,317 characters in your document, there would be 4,863 words. You can use fields to insert this type of word count in your document in the following manner:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the word count placed.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert a set of field braces. Make sure the insertion point remains between the braces.
  3. Press the equal sign (=).
  4. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert another set of field braces. Make sure the insertion point remains between the new braces.
  5. Type numchars.
  6. Press the right arrow twice. The insertion point should be between the two right braces.
  7. Type /5 (divided by 5). Your compound field should now look like this:
  8.      { ={ numchars }/5 }
    
  9. Press F9 to update the field.

You could, if you wanted, also include a bit more of a formula in your field in step 7. For instance, if you wanted to make sure that the value returned was an integer, you could use this as your field code:

     { =int({ numchars }/5) }

There is one other thing to keep in mind. If you compare the value returned by this approach to the value returned by Word's internal word counter, the values will be different. This "divide by 5" approach is an old rule of thumb for those in the publishing business. Word's internal counter calculates words by, essentially, looking at the number of spaces and punctuation in a document—the elements that normally denote the end of a word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10026) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: A Quick-and-Dirty Word Count.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Line Breaks After a Slash

Some writers use the slash to combine words and as shorthand to signify "or" or "and." This, of course, makes for some ...

Discover More

Keep Your Headings in View

When working with lots of data rows, it is easy to forget what the column headings say. Here's how to keep those headings ...

Discover More

Properties for Worksheets

Excel keeps a full set of properties related to workbooks. When it comes to worksheets, however, there is very little ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Understanding DATE Field Formatting

One of the most commonly used fields is the DATE field. You can specify how the DATE field displays the current date by ...

Discover More

Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document

One of the most powerful and useful fields provided by Word is the SEQ field. This tip describes how you can use the ...

Discover More

Inserting the Template Name in Your Document

Templates are a powerful part of the Word experience, as they allow you to create and format documents based on patterns. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.