How to Check Word Count in Microsoft Word

A word count is a numerical count of the number of words in a document, file, or text string. Knowing the word count of your document is essential. For example, when you have to write a minimum or a maximum number of words, seeing the word count will help you stay within this set limit.

This guide shows you different ways to check the word count for an entire document or a specific section on Microsoft Word (2019).

What counts as a word in Microsoft Word?

Microsoft Office counts words by looking for any text separated by spaces in the line. This means that:

  • Articles (namely, “a”, “an”, “the”) and  conjunctions (for example, “and”, “or”, “but”) will count as words.
  • Numbers without spaces between them count as words. For example, “9” and “4321” will each count as one word, but “4 3 2 1” will count as four words.
  • Compound words (such as “follow-up” or “long-term”) count as one word.
  • Image captions and words in a table are included in the word count.
  • Words in the header or footer of a Word document such as page numbers, creation dates, copyrights, or references will not be included in the word count.

Checking the status bar

By default, you can find the word count on the status bar in the bottom left of your window. You will find the page counter (showing which page you’re on), followed by the word counter on its right.

Word count on the status bar
Check the word count on the Status Bar.

If you don’t see the word count in the status bar, right-click anywhere on the status bar, and select Word Count in the menu that shows. The word count should now be visible.

Right-click on the status bar and select Word Count
Select Word Count from the feature list.

Checking the Word Count dialog box

You can check the word count (and other useful counts for your document) of your document using the Word Count dialog box. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Review tab in the Ribbon.

    Click on the Review tab
    Click on the Review tab.
  2. Select Word Count in the “Proofing” category. The Word Count dialog box appears. Here you can see helpful counts of your documents, including word count, character count, paragraph count, and line count.

    Click on Word Count.
    Click on Word Count to check the number of words on the entire document.
  3. Click Close when you’re done.

Note: You can also click the word count in the status bar to open the Word Count dialog box.

Viewing word count in document statistics

To view word count in document statistics, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Word file.
  2. Click on the File tab in the Ribbon.

    The File tab
    Click on the File tab.
  3. Select Info.

    Select Info
    Click on Info.
  4. In the area on the right, check the word count under “Properties”.

    Check the word count under Properties
    Check the word count under document properties.

Checking the word count of a specific section

Checking the status bar

You can check the word count of a specific paragraph or body of text with just one step. Highlight the words you want to check the count for, and the status bar will show the word count for that selection. It will display it as follows:

“Number of words in your selection” of “Total number of words in the entire document.”

Word count for selected text
Check the word count for the selected text on the Status Bar.

Checking the Word Count dialog box

  1. Highlight the text you want to get the word count of.
  2. Navigate to the Review tab in the top bar.

    Review tab
    Highlight the desired text and click on the Review tab
  3. Click on Word Count. You can also display the Word Count dialog box by pressing Ctrl (Command on Mac) + Shift + G.

    Click on Word Count
    Click on Word Count.
  4. Check the number of words displayed next to “Words” in the Word Count dialog box.

    Check the number next to Words
    Check the word count for the selected text in the dialog box.

Inserting The Word Count in Your Document

When you need to insert the final word count in your document as a requirement, follow these steps:

  1. Click the position where you want your word count to go. For example, you can select the bottom of your document.
    Click the position where you want your word count to go
    Place the cursor where you want to insert the word count.
  2. In the top menu, click on Insert, then navigate to the Quick Parts icon.

    Click on insert and navigate to Quick Parts
    Click on insert, then navigate to Quick Parts.
  3. Click on Field.

    Click on Field
    Click on Field
  4. Under “Categories” choose Document Information.

    Select Document Information under Categories
    Select Document Information under ‘Categories’
  5. Under “Field names” choose NumWords, then click OK.

    Choose NumWords and Click OK
    Select NumWords under ‘Field names’, then click OK
  6. The word count should appear where your cursor is at.

Note: the word count does not update automatically if you continue to work on your document. Right-click on the word count and click Update Field from the drop-down menu to update the word count.

Right click on the word count and select Update Field
Click on Update Field to update the word count.

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