Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Counting a Particular Word.

Counting a Particular Word

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 8, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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There are times that I need to know how often I've used a particular word in a document, or even in a part of a document. The Word Count tool doesn't allow you to limit a count to a specific selection of text, but there is a neat little workaround you can do.

Before getting to the workaround, let me get out of the way what some may see as the obvious approach: Using the Navigation pane that is displayed when you press Ctrl+F. This can be a viable approach to counting the occurrences of a word in an entire document—just press Ctrl+F and enter the word you want. Word displays the number of occurrences of that word. Easy peasy, right?

Not really. This approach doesn't work so great if you want to only count occurrences of the word within a selection of text. If you select the text to which you want your word count limited, then it won't work. For instance, before pressing Ctrl+F, select a paragraph or two. Now, when you press Ctrl+F, Word assumes you want to search for that paragraph or two, not within that paragraph or two. Type the word you want to find within the Navigation pane, and Word ignores the paragraph or two and shows a count for the entire document.

No, the Navigation pane is not the answer. The solution is the old tried-and-true method of using the advanced searching capabilities of Word. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want included in the count if you only want to count in a particular area of your document. (You can select multiple, non-contiguous areas of text by holding down the Ctrl key as you make your selections with the mouse.)
  2. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. In the Find What box, enter the word you want to count.
  5. In the Replace With box, enter the characters ^&. This instructs Word to replace what is found with what you searched. (In other words, you are replacing the found text with the same word.)
  6. If you are concerned about Word finding "false positives" in word variations—i.e., searching for "car" and finding "care, caring, and carbuncle"—then click the More button and select the Find Whole Words option.
  7. Click Replace All.

Word replaces all occurrences of the word with itself, so there really are no changes done to your document. However, a dialog box appears that indicates how many changes were performed; this is your word count.

If you are skittish about doing find and replace operations, make sure you save your document before using this workaround. Plus, you can make double-sure there were no changes made by simply pressing Ctrl+Z right after dismissing the Find and Replace dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12038) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Counting a Particular Word.

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. ...

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What is one less than 8?

2023-07-09 16:58:25

Al

Doesn't the search feature from the navigation pane show the number of "hits" found?


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