Writers love word counts because they provide a concrete means of tracking our progress. Readers love word counts because it lets us know what we’re in for (a 50,000-word novella or a 500,000-word epic!).
But how can we determine word counts?
Amazon used to provide book word counts in their specs, but that feature is long gone. There are a variety of sites that offer word counts of popular books, like I’ve done here. Or we can calculate word counts ourselves by turning to the rule-of-thumb that says each page is about 250 words. (The problem with that method is that in many books, especially in genres like fantasy and science fiction, per page word counts are more in the neighborhood of 350 or 400 words.)
While we might try these methods to approximate word counts in our favorite books, when it comes to our own writing, there are easier ways.
Here are instructions for checking word count in a variety of programs.
Word Count in Word
In recent version of Word, the official word count is visible in the lower left corner.
If you scroll over that word count and click, you’ll get even more interesting details, including the number of pages you’ve written so far, the character count (with and without spaces), and the number of paragraphs and lines you’ve put down.
Another way to achieve the same goal is to click on the “Review” tab in the top bar. A “Word Count” tab and icon should drop down on the top left of the screen.
Word Count in Google Docs
Another common word processing program for writers is Google Docs, which allows for simple editing and sharing of documents. Unlike in Microsoft Word, the word counter in Google Docs is not always visible on the default screen. Still, checking your word count here is very easy.
To find your word count in Google Docs, simply click on the “Tools” tab at the top of the screen (make sure your menus are visible–if they’re not, press Ctrl+Shift+F).
In the drop-down menu, you’ll see a “Word count” option. Click on it, and you’ll see a slightly more limited display of the stats of your writing. These include your pages written, words written, and character counts (with and without spaces).
Another simple way to get word count in Google Docs? Simply press Ctrl+Shift+C.
Word Count in Powerpoint
Okay, those were the easy ones. Some people, however, like to write in Powerpoint. It can help with plotting–each slide is a new scene or chapter.
If that works for you, how can you check your word count in MS Powerpoint? It’s a bit more complicated, though still not difficult.
The first thing to do is click on the “File” tab in the top left corner of your Powerpoint presentation. When you do that, the “Info” tab should be the first one highlighted in the dropdown menu. (If it’s not, just click on “Info”.)
Now in the right-hand column, you’ll see a variety of categories: Properties, Related Dates, Related People. At the very bottom of that list, you’ll see an option that reads “Show All Properties.” Click on that, and when the list above it expands, “Words” (i.e., “Word Count”) will appear under the “Properties” category. This value lets you know how many words you have across all your slides, giving you a total word count in Powerpoint.