Editing: Word Count in MS Word and Google Docs

Finding the word count for your document seems unimportant . . . until you actually need it.

Knowing how to find a document’s word count may seem obvious, but I just googled what “indemnify” means, so clearly, there’s no such thing as obvious if you’re not used to working in a different field. As prolific and important as writing is in our content-driven, email-happy world, not that many people actually work with word processors. Even in content systems, like WordPress here, the word count is usually displayed on the bottom of the text box. This isn’t true for Google Docs and not always true for Microsoft Word.

If you need to know the word count for your document in Docs or Word, whether for payment purposes or NaNoWriMo, here’s a little guide to help you out.

Finding Word Count in Microsoft Word

(The version I use is Office 365 Personal 2016, but the process is pretty much the same for all versions.)

Ideally, the word count is at the bottom of the page, on the status bar:

If it’s not there, right click on the status bar and make sure “Word Count” is checked.

If you want a more detailed description, click on the “Review” tab on the display bar at the top, then on Word Count, and a window of all your document’s statistics will pop up.

If you want to know the word count of a specific section, select the text you want with your cursor. The status bar will then show how many words are in that section.

All this should get you enough information for most projects. If you still want more or need to insert a certain amount of text, be sure to check out Microsoft’s official word count article.

Finding Word Count in Google Docs

Unlike MS Word, Google docs doesn’t have the word count clearly displayed on the screen — it doesn’t even have a status bar! So, what you have to do is go to the “Tools” tab on the display bar, and select “Word Count.”

Then, a window will pop up, showing you all your document’s stats, including word count.

If you want to know the word count for selected text, the process is exactly the same, just the pop-up box is different, also showing you the words for that section.

That about does it for Google Docs, but here’s the official article anyway.

As you can see, finding the word count for your document isn’t all that difficult, but if you’re new to using word processors or just never had to bother before, it may throw you for a loop at first. For other programs besides Word and Docs, the process is usually very similar. For example, to find the word count in OpenOffice, click on “Tools” in the display bar, then “Word Count” (I don’t have OpenOffice, so no screenshots). In most cases, it’s a good bet that the word counter will be in a “Tools” or “Review” menu.

Have you ever had difficulty finding the word count or another program feature, like spellcheck?

(P.S. I didn’t write Hamilton [that would be the amazing Lin-Manuel Miranda], I just thought it would be a fun Easter egg. =D)

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