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Thread: Word Count

  1. #1
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    Word Count

    I've read that Word 2007/2010 do not accurately report the word count in a document. (I'm not sure about previous versions.)

    What is the best way to get an accurate word count on a Word document... including all stories with the exception of Comments.

    Thanks.

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    On the Review tab, Proofing tab, click the Word Count icon and select whether footnotes, endnotes, or the contents of textboxes are to be included in the word count. These are the only options that I am aware of for word count.

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    Hi Richard,

    When it comes to counting words in headers & footers, things quickly become a matter of interpretation: do you count all the words in the header & footer on every page, even though the headers, say, may be exactly the same and the only thing that differs in the footers is the page #?.
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    If you count (using VBA) the words in the header/footer stories, they would get counted only once, correct? I've heard and read that the count provided by Word (on the Proofing tab) is not accurate. Do you know what Word considers a "word" to be? I suppose the other consideration is how the authority (a court of appeals, for example, when limiting the number of words in a brief) defines a word.

    Richard

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    If you count (using VBA) the words in the header/footer stories, they would get counted only once, correct?
    That depends on what your vba code is programmed to do.
    I've heard and read that the count provided by Word (on the Proofing tab) is not accurate.
    Without knowing the basis of that claim, and seeing evidence to support it, that's not easy to comment on. Certainly, some of the older versions didn't include content in footnotes, endnotes or textboxes. New versions have that option, as redbeard noted.

    Your mention of an 'authority' also raises the issue of 'which authority'? Universities, for example, typically don't include headers, footers, Tables of Contents, Bibliographies, footnotes & endnotes in the word count for assignments. Another authority might. Who's to say which is correct?

    The following macro generates a comprehensive set of word counts for a document. If you only want the word count for a selected range, change ‘ActiveDocument’ to ‘Selection’. Do note that, with the latter, the word counts for footnotes & end notes will relate to those anchored in the selected range, regardless of where they’re physically located.
    Code:
    Sub CountWords()
    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    Dim oTbl As Table, lTbl As Long, Sctn As Section
    Dim oHdFt As HeaderFooter, lHdr As Long, lFtr As Long
    Dim oEnt As Endnote, lEnt As Long
    Dim oFnt As Footnote, lFnt As Long
    Dim oShp As Shape, lShp As Long
    Dim oPara As Paragraph, lCpt As Long
    With ActiveDocument
      For Each oTbl In .Tables
        lTbl = lTbl + oTbl.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
      Next
      For Each oEnt In .Endnotes
        lEnt = lEnt + oEnt.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
      Next
      For Each oFnt In .Footnotes
        lFnt = lFnt + oFnt.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
      Next
      For Each Sctn In .Sections
        For Each oHdFt In Sctn.Headers
          If Not oHdFt.LinkToPrevious Then _
            lHdr = lHdr + oHdFt.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
        Next
        For Each oHdFt In Sctn.Footers
          If Not oHdFt.LinkToPrevious Then _
            lFtr = lFtr + oHdFt.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
        Next
      Next
      For Each oShp In .Endnotes
        If Not oShp.TextFrame Is Nothing Then _
          lShp = lShp + oShp.TextFrame.TextRange.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
      Next
      For Each oPara In .Paragraphs
        If oPara.Style = "Caption" Then _
          lCpt = lCpt + oPara.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)
      Next
      MsgBox "Word Count Statistics:" & vbCr & _
        "Tables - " & vbTab & vbTab & lTbl & vbCr & _
        "EndNotes - " & vbTab & lEnt & vbCr & _
        "Footnotes - " & vbTab & lFnt & vbCr & _
        "Headers - " & vbTab & vbTab & lHdr & vbCr & _
        "Footers - " & vbTab & vbTab & lFtr & vbCr & _
        "Shapes - " & vbTab & vbTab & lShp & vbCr & _
        "Captions - " & vbTab & lCpt & vbCr & _
        "Other - " & vbTab & vbTab & .Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords) - lTbl - lCpt
    End With
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
    End Sub
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    How accurate does your count need to be? And what do you want included or left out of the count? As far as I can tell, Word sees space, no break space, and em and en dashes as word separators, but not the hyphen and slash (- & /). That means high-stakes and development/analysis are both one word. In some documents on IT subjects, that could cause a gross underestimate.

    Pam

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    Hi Pam,

    I believe the convention, even before MS Word came along, would have been to count hyphenated words (eg co-operative) as a single word. The development of neologisms like high-stakes wouldn't alter that convention. As for development/analysis, since the expression is using two conjoined words to express a single idea, I wouldn't have any difficulty with counting the conjunction as one word. YMMV.
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    Thank you, Paul, for the code. I've created a single paragraph of text using =Rand(1,5). Interestingly, ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticsWords) returns 98 words, and ActiveDocument.Paragraphs(1).Words.Count returns 113 words. A manual count finds 98 words, agreeing with ComputeStatistics. I used a MsgBox to display each word in Paragraphs(1), and VBA commas and other punctuation are apparently counted as words. I imagine this is why I've heard folks say that counting is inaccurate; I believe they must be using the Count property of the Words collection, which is obviously over-counting.

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    Hi, Paul,

    You are right about "co-operative". Some dictionaries do list it as the spelling of the word; many American ones did years ago. But not right about the other two. The hyphen in "high-stakes game" is punctuation, not spelling; the / is often used in jargon-filled text to mean "and" --left out to save space-- but the traditional meaning of it is "or" (think "and/or"). Under reporting the word count this way for me has been minor; there are other things that more strongly affect how long a job takes. But, just as counting numbers as words is a problem for translators, counting hyphen- and slash-joined words as one could be a problem for others. That's why I called it the Richard's attention.

    Some word count programs today allow users to choose the word delimiters (and exclude numbers). That would be a good idea for Word too because it has customer groups that rely on accurate (though perhaps different) word counts. And it might happen. The copyright dates for the dictionary and spell check software Office uses are from the 1990s.

    Pam

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    Richard,

    I'm using Word 2010 and did the same test as yours, with the same result. When using the Range.Words.Count property of a paragraph, Word counted all periods and commas. However, at the bottom of the program window, I've turned on Word Count display and it seems to be using ComputeStatistics to count words, as I get the same result as when I run the vba code.

    So your question does hinge on grammar issues and the inability of Word to see hyphenated words or words separated by a slash as separate words.

    But what's your need for a word count? You gave a court of appeals as one of your authorities. In California, the courts only demand that one not exceed a specific word limit (40,000, for example), rather than to give a specific word count. Further, the rules for the California Supreme Court, for example, state "The person certifying may rely on the word count of the computer program used to prepare the brief." This may be true in New York, yes?

    I suppose one could search for hyphens or slashes to see how many there are, just to know how far off the count might be...

    HTH, Kim

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    Quote Originally Posted by kmurdock View Post

    I suppose one could search for hyphens or slashes to see how many there are, just to know how far off the count might be...

    HTH, Kim
    Clever, Kim.

    Pam

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    I like to work from the other end in discussing word count: take a stack of columns, let us say, that you have reason to suspect may have been written to spec – that is, having a maximum column length – by top writers – say columnists at The New York Times – and paste the columns into Word as documents, and then perform word counts.

    Writing a column to a specification such as word count is like playing horseshoes or quoits, and the count alone is a private recreation, unless the readers catch on and compile collections of columns as I once did over a significant period. I don’t know about other sources, but the columnists at the NYT are deadly. Their columns are content-rich and astonishingly consistent in word count.

    You can view them online. Copy, paste, and word-count.

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    I don't know if the word count of NY Times columns is germane to the current thread but in any case, couldn't it simply be that the columns are written by the columnists, and then trimmed by their editors to ensure that they fit a strict word count limit (dictated strictly by the need to conform to a page layout template that's required to get everything to fit on the page)?

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Frieder View Post
    I don't know if the word count of NY Times columns is germane to the current thread but in any case, couldn't it simply be that the columns are written by the columnists, and then trimmed by their editors to ensure that they fit a strict word count limit (dictated strictly by the need to conform to a page layout template that's required to get everything to fit on the page)?
    Are those diminutive words, or big ones?
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

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    I guess at 4 syllables vs. 1, diminutive is larger than big!

    (This topic reminds me of something I saw years ago - OK, decades ago - in Mad magazine where they did a parody of a NY Times front page - in the box at the top where it usually says "All the News That's Fit to Print", they had changed it to "All the News that Fits, We Print")

    Gary

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