Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Word and Character Count Information.

Word and Character Count Information

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 17, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word keeps track of quite a bit of summary information for your documents. One of the pieces of information maintained is the number of characters in your document, and another is the number of words. This information is updated whenever the document is saved or printed. Word allows you to insert this summary information into your document by following these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the number of words to appear.
  2. Choose Field from the Insert menu. You will see the Field dialog box.
  3. Choose Document Information as the field category (left side of the dialog box). (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Field dialog box.

  5. If you want to insert the number of characters in your document, select NumChars from the Field Names list (right side of the dialog box).
  6. If you want to insert the number of words in your document, select NumWords from the Field Names list.
  7. Click on OK.

By combining these two fields, you can easily calculate the average word length. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want to insert the field.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert a set of field braces in your document.
  3. Within the braces, type an equal sign, then press Ctrl+F9 again to insert another set of field braces.
  4. Within the new set of field braces, enter the name NumChars.
  5. After the NumChars field, enter a slash (/), and then press Ctrl+F9 again to insert a third set of field braces.
  6. Within the new set of field braces, enter the name NumWords. Your compound field should now look as follows:
  7.      {={NumChars}/{NumWords}}
    
  8. Position the insertion point right before the equal sign. Press the F9 key to update the field.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (387) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Word and Character Count Information.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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