Whether you’re working on an essay, article, or letter, you probably plan to write until you’ve covered everything you need to say. Sometimes, you may complete your text, only to discover that you’ve written too many or too few words. Uh oh.
For example, you might need to complete an assignment that requires a 500-word answer. If you’ve written 3,000 words, you’ll probably want to edit your response before submitting it to your professor. Luckily, most word processors allow you to check on your character count and word count while you work.
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In Google Docs within Google Drive, you can navigate to view the word count by pressing Tools > Word Count. Within the pop-up, you can see the page count, word count, character count, and characters excluding spaces. You can also check a box marked “display word count while typing.” Selecting that option allows you to view the word counter in the bottom left corner of your screen while you’re working in the document. The word count will be updated in real-time as you type. If you prefer, you can choose to view page count, character count, or characters excluding spaces in real-time.
In the Google Docs mobile app, for instance on an Android or iPhone, you would open your document in the app. Then, select the ellipsis (“More”) in the upper corner of the screen. Word count will be provided as one of the drop-down options.
In addition, you can choose to navigate to view word count by using keyboard shortcuts.
Press Command + Shift + C on a Mac
Press Ctrl + Shift + C on a PC
Partial Word Count
If you’re looking for the word, character, or page count for a specific section of text, most word processors allow you to highlight a portion of the text. When you check the word count, you’ll see the partial word count, rather than the total word count for the document.
How to Navigate Other Word Processors and Programs
Microsoft Word offers a word count feature in the status bar.
Apple Pages offers a word counter, as well. To change what’s displayed in the counter, click the Toolbar > Show Word Count and select one of the other tracking options.
Gmail does not offer a word count feature.
Twitter shows the number of characters remaining in the lower right-hand corner of your tweet.
Many website form submissions have a word or character limit. You’ll often receive an error notification if your text exceeds the maximum word count.
Many browsers offer extensions that will allow you to track word count as you browse the internet. Here’s one for Google Chrome.
I’m an award-winning playwright with a penchant for wordplay. After earning a perfect score on the Writing SAT, I worked my way through Brown University by moonlighting as a Kaplan Test Prep tutor. I received a BA with honors in Literary Arts (Playwriting)—which gave me the opportunity to study under Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel. In my previous roles as new media producer with Rosetta Stone, director of marketing for global ventures with The Juilliard School, and vice president of digital strategy with Up & Coming Media, I helped develop the voice for international brands. From my home office in Maui, Hawaii, I currently work on freelance and ghostwriting projects.