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: Determining the Length of a String.

Determining the Length of a String

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 18, 2012)


It is hard to imagine a function used more often with strings than the Len() function. This simple little function returns the length of any string. The following are a few examples that can work in your macros:

A = Len(MyString)
B = Len("This is a test")

The first line returns the length of the characters in the variable MyString. The second returns the number of characters between the quote marks (in this case, 14—remember that spaces count as characters).

If you want to determine the length of a selection, you follow a bit different approach:

C = Len(Selection)

This line returns the length of the current text selection in the document. Remember when calculating the length of a selection that paragraph marks (hard returns) count as two characters. That is because they are each really a carriage return followed by a line feed, even though all other macro commands treat them as a single character.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (777) 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: Determining the Length of a String.

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 six more than 8?

2012-02-24 13:58:31

Steven Wells

Addendum to my previous comment:
Unlike the Len function, where a hard return counts as its two component characters, the built-in Word Count function ignores both hard and soft returns entirely, counting either as zero (0) characters.

2012-02-24 13:49:32

Steve Wells

This tip is okay for explaining the Len function, but why bother with that approach when there is already a much better built-in function in Word, though not obviously named.

Select the text that you want to consider, and on the Tools menu, click Word Count. A small box displays the statistics for your selection:
Characters (no spaces)
Characters (with spaces)

You also can select a check box to include footnotes and endnotes.

I use this feature often, so I have placed it onto one of my toolbars. To get the toolbar button:
1. Click Tools > Customize to open the Customize dialog box.
2. In the Commands tab under Categories, click Tools.
3. In the Commands box on the right, scroll to find Word Count and drag it to your toolbar.
4. Click Close.

If you look for the command under the Category: All Commands, the same item is available (alphabetically) as ToolsWordCount, along with a couple related commands, which place a list on the toolbar rather than in a dialog box. (Personally, I find the dialog box to be the more convenient interface.)

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