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 Count for a Section.

Word Count for a Section

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2017)


One of the benefits of fields is that you can insert dynamic information within your document. When the field is updated, it is replaced with whatever information is current relative to the field in use. For instance, you can use the NumWords field to insert the number of words in the document. When the field is updated, it is replaced with however many words are then in the document.

If you want to find out the number of words in a section, and have it dynamically placed in a document, then you are out of luck. There is no field that will return this information. You can find it out manually by selecting the text in the section and then choosing the Word Count tool, but that obviously doesn't satisfy the desire to have a value that can be inserted into your document and automatically updated.

This means that you will need to rely on a macro to get the desired word count. If you just want to know the number of words in each section of your document, the following macro can be helpful.

Sub WordCount()
    Dim NumSec As Integer
    Dim S As Integer
    Dim Summary As String

    NumSec = ActiveDocument.Sections.Count
    Summary = "Word Count" & vbCrLf

    For S = 1 To NumSec
        Summary = Summary & "Section " & S & ": " _
          & ActiveDocument.Sections(S).Range.Words.Count _
          & vbCrLf

    Summary = Summary & "Document: " & _
    MsgBox Summary
End Sub

This simply steps through each section, determines the word count in that section, and displays the summary information in a message box. This does not provide a way to dynamically insert the information in the document, but it does provide an illustration of how you can find the word count of a single section.

A variation on the technique allows you to automatically insert the word count for a specific section at the location of a bookmark within your document. Let's say that you have a bookmarked called "WordCount" that you have defined. This bookmark specifies the place where you want the number of words in the second section of your document. The following macro will determine the word count for the specified section, and then insert the text at the location of the bookmark.

Sub InsertWordCount()
    Dim oRange As Word.Range
    Dim sBookmarkName As String
    Dim sTemp As String

    sBookmarkName = "WordCount"
    With ActiveDocument
        sTemp = Format(.Sections(2).Range.Words.Count, "0")
        Set oRange = .Bookmarks(sBookmarkName).Range
        oRange.InsertAfter Text:=sTemp
        .Bookmarks.Add Name:=sBookmarkName, Range:=oRange
    End With
End Sub

The macro could be easily called from other macros, such as one that runs when the document is opened, saved, or printed. That way the word count would be updated at all the normal times when a field is automatically updated.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (519) 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 Count for a Section.

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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What is 8 - 2?

2017-07-27 07:45:39

Lisa Sheppard

Hi Allen

Is there a way to select the 'start' and 'end' point in text that you need to keep an eye on, and have a watch window like you do in Excel to see where you are? I have an MSc dissertation to submit, which also has things I don't need to include in the word count - hence the start/end question!

Kind regards


2017-05-03 09:27:39

Peter van den Berg

Thank you all for the tips!
For my thesis I was looking for a solution that displays the wordcount in the active document, per section. As you all found there are no clear-cut solutions, so I took matters in my own hands and programmed one: Its was a bit of a hassle to do so with a random number of sections, but a loop and a variable matrix worked that out fine: It took some time and plenty of googling, as it is my first time coding, so i expect it could be done more easily, but it works exactly as intended!

Sub WordCountPerSectionMacro()
'____________Declare variables
Dim sBookmarkname As String 'Declare variable sBookmarkName
Dim oRng As Word.Range
Dim iNumSec As Integer 'Declare variable iNumSec
Dim iCounter As Integer 'Declare variable iCounter
Dim iTotal As Integer 'Declare variable iTotal
Dim sOutput As String 'Declare variable sOutput
'____________End declare variables

With ActiveDocument 'Apply code within the active document.
sBookmarkname = "Wordcount" 'Fill the variable with the name of the bookmark where the output is to be printed.
If .Bookmarks.Exists(sBookmarkname) = True Then 'If the bookmark existst, continue.

'____________Prepare variables
Set oRng = .Bookmarks(sBookmarkname).Range 'Set objectrange to the range of sBookmarkname.
oRng.Text = "" 'Clear the objectrange (prevent including previous wordcounts in the counter).
iTotal = 0 'set the total wordcount back to 0.
iCounter = 0 'set the counter back to 0.
iNumSec = .Sections.Count 'set iNumSec to the number of sections in the document.
'____________End prepare variables

'____________Start loop
Do Until iCounter = .Sections.Count
iCounter = iCounter + 1
ReDim iWordcount(1 To iNumSec) As Integer 'Declare a range of variables named iWordcount1 untill iWordcount(number of sections in document)
iWordcount(iCounter) = Format(.Sections(iCounter) _
.Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords), "0") 'Fill iWordcount(iCounter) with the number of words in that section. (thanks Ameet!)
iTotal = iTotal + iWordcount(iCounter) 'Add the number of words in that section to the total number of words.
sOutput = sOutput & "Section " & iCounter & " has " _
& iWordcount(iCounter) & " Words" & vbCrLf 'Add a line with the current section and wordcount to the output variable
'____________End loop
MsgBox "Please add a bookmark named " & sBookmarkname 'If the bookmark does not exists, prompt user to create one.
End If

oRng.Text = sOutput & "Total wordcount: " & iTotal 'Clear the object range and fill it with the output variable plus the total wordcount
.Bookmarks.Add sBookmarkname, oRng 'Add a new bookmark at location oRng
'____________End outputs
End With
End Sub

Now, i slammed this one flat for readability on this webpage, but i advise you to use the proper indents if you intend to use its functions.

2016-06-29 21:28:45

R. Ambrose Raven

Though very good info, note that Word 2003 has a toolbar for the purpose. Tools > Customise > Word Count

2015-04-24 15:15:42


is it possible to change (section) to page so that i know how much word in a page live so that everytime i insert a word on a page it show me how many word by pages,. reseting counter at zero ever pages ?

2015-02-13 12:50:02


Is it possible to paste the word count table output at a certain place within the document instead of a MsgBox? This is really helpful, thanks.

2013-07-04 07:43:43


I also found the same problem as david b. It appears that the Words.Count function actually counts formatting marks (like paragraphs and even spaces!) as words.

Using "...Range.ComputeStatistics(wdStatisticWords)" insteal (like in Ameet's post) should do the trick.

Great post Allen!

2013-01-09 06:42:52

david b

This is a very useful feature for the entire document. Sadly the word count for each section seems to be much larger (by 800 words in my case) than when doing it manually. I wonder if this can be fixed? Thanks

2012-12-03 21:49:41


OK. Solved. Many thanks. All I needed to do was to cordon off the part I want into a section. Note down which section it is, then arrange to print the word count at a bookmark point. Assign a shortcut to the macro and it's done. The only thing now is that the word count is slightly off when compared to the built-in Word's function. But I can live with that.

Yayy. Many thanks.

2012-12-03 21:16:23


I'd like to do a word count for a selection (not a section) and show it at a particular point (which can be bookmarked). Is this possible? This will be very useful when you write an abstract, for example.

2012-11-15 10:37:31


Is it possible to count per section but without (foot)notes?

2012-09-06 08:41:14


Thanks Ameet. I'll try that

2012-09-05 11:21:24


Re: David

Try changing the formula to

sTemp=Format(.Sections(2).Range.ComputeStatistics( wdStatisticWords), "0")

2012-06-21 07:26:32


Have just found this - which answers most of my previous question! Still wondering if a Field Formula can relate to a specific selection of text though...

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