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
    Next

    Summary = Summary & "Document: " & _
      ActiveDocument.Range.Words.Count
    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.Delete
        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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