Count of Underlined or Struck-Through Words

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 6, 2020)

Tricia has a lot of documents that she works with for her employment. These documents have many words that are underlined and many others that have "strikethrough" formatting. Tricia needs a way, at any given time, to know how many words in the document are underlined and how many are "struck through."

There are a couple of non-macro approaches you can use to get the counts you need, both of which are quick and easy. Here's one that is rather esoteric, but works great:

  1. Open the document that has the formatted words you want to count.
  2. Open a second, blank document.
  3. Switch back to the original document.
  4. Select one of the words you want to count. (For instance, if you want to count underlined words, select one of the underlined words.)
  5. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  6. Click the Select tool (Editing group) and then click Select Text with Similar Formatting. Word selects all the words that have the same formatting as the word you selected in step 4.
  7. Press Ctrl+C. This copies all the words to the Clipboard.
  8. Switch to the blank document.
  9. Press Ctrl+V. This pastes all the words into the new document.
  10. Look at the status bar where you'll see a count of all the words in the document, which is all the words you just pasted.

There is one caveat to this approach: When you use the Select Text with Similar Formatting, Word is pretty discriminating in what it selects. For instance, if you have a word that is bold and underlined, but you select a word that is non-bold and underlined in step 4, then the bold and underlined word is not selected after step 6. The reason is that Word considers the bolding enough of a "disqualifier" that the formatting is no longer similar. Still, if your words use simple underlining or simple strikethrough, then these steps will work quickly and easily. (Plus, you get the benefit of having the words themselves in a different document where you can further analyze them.)

Another approach is to use the Find and Replace feature of Word to derive the count. Follow these steps, for example, if you want to find the count of words that are struck through:

  1. Open the document that has the formatted words you want to count.
  2. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. Click the Find tab.
  4. Click the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  6. Click Format | Font. Word displays the Find Font dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Find Font dialog box.

  8. Click the Strikethrough check box until it contains a check mark.
  9. Click OK to close the Find Font dialog box.
  10. Click the Use Wildcards check box.
  11. In the Find What box, enter the following: <[A-Z,a-z]@>
  12. Click Reading Highlight | Highlight All. Word highlights all the words that match the specification and it displays the count of the matches in the dialog box.

Word does a good job of highlighting individual words if you use this approach. Thus, if you have the text "John followed the path for about a mile", these steps will see this as 8 separate words and reflect that in the count. The reason is because of the pattern matching you specified in step 9. It indicates that the match must be at the beginning and end of a word.

The search pattern you specify in step 9 will match only words that contain uppercase or lowercase letters. It won't match words that contain (beginning, middle, or end) any numbers. Thus, the word "CH2M" (an actual portion of a company name) would not be considered a match. If you believe you may have digits in some of your words, then use the search pattern <[A-Z,a-z,0-9]@> in step 9, instead.

If you decide to use the Find and Replace approach, you'll need to repeat the steps for each type of formatting you want to find. Actually, if you are going to get your counts all at the same time, you can simply repeat steps 5 through 10 over and over again, selecting a different formatting option each time in step 6. (Word actually has two strikethrough settings and 16 or so different types of underlining.)

While the two methods of getting counts discussed in this tip focus on counting underlined or struck-through words, the same two techniques can be used to search for any type or mix of formatting you desire; they are very versatile.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13039) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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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