Determining Word Frequency

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 9, 2016)

2

As you are analyzing your documents, you may wonder if there is a way to create a word frequency list. In other words, you may want to generate a list of every unique word in your document, along with the number of times it appears.

Unfortunately, Word doesn't include such a feature. You can, however, create your own using a macro. The following VBA macro is an example:

Sub WordFrequency()
    Dim SingleWord As String           'Raw word pulled from doc
    Const maxwords = 9000              'Maximum unique words allowed
    Dim Words(maxwords) As String      'Array to hold unique words
    Dim Freq(maxwords) As Integer      'Frequency counter for unique words
    Dim WordNum As Integer             'Number of unique words
    Dim ByFreq As Boolean              'Flag for sorting order
    Dim ttlwds As Long                 'Total words in the document
    Dim Excludes As String             'Words to be excluded
    Dim Found As Boolean               'Temporary flag
    Dim j As Integer                   'Temporary variables
    Dim k As Integer                   '
    Dim l As Integer                   '
    Dim Temp As Integer                '
    Dim tword As String                '

    ' Set up excluded words
    Excludes = "[the][a][of][is][to][for][this][that][by][be][and][are]"

    ' Find out how to sort
    ByFreq = True
    ans = InputBox$("Sort by WORD or by FREQ?", "Sort order", "WORD")
    If ans = "" Then End
    If UCase(ans) = "WORD" Then
        ByFreq = False
    End If
    
    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory
    System.Cursor = wdCursorWait
    WordNum = 0
    ttlwds = ActiveDocument.Words.Count

    ' Control the repeat
    For Each aword In ActiveDocument.Words
        SingleWord = Trim(LCase(aword))
        If SingleWord < "a" Or SingleWord > "z" Then SingleWord = ""    'Out of range?
        If InStr(Excludes, "[" & SingleWord & "]") Then SingleWord = "" 'On exclude list?
        If Len(SingleWord) > 0 Then
            Found = False
            For j = 1 To WordNum
                If Words(j) = SingleWord Then
                    Freq(j) = Freq(j) + 1
                    Found = True
                    Exit For
                End If
            Next j
            If Not Found Then
                WordNum = WordNum + 1
                Words(WordNum) = SingleWord
                Freq(WordNum) = 1
            End If
            If WordNum > maxwords - 1 Then
                j = MsgBox("The maximum array size has been exceeded. _
                  Increase maxwords.", vbOKOnly)
                Exit For
            End If
        End If
        ttlwds = ttlwds - 1
        StatusBar = "Remaining: " & ttlwds & "     Unique: " & WordNum
    Next aword

    ' Now sort it into word order
    For j = 1 To WordNum - 1
        k = j
        For l = j + 1 To WordNum
            If (Not ByFreq And Words(l) < Words(k)) Or 
               (ByFreq And Freq(l) > Freq(k)) Then k = l
        Next l
        If k <> j Then
            tword = Words(j)
            Words(j) = Words(k)
            Words(k) = tword
            Temp = Freq(j)
            Freq(j) = Freq(k)
            Freq(k) = Temp
        End If
        StatusBar = "Sorting: " & WordNum - j
    Next j

    ' Now write out the results
    tmpName = ActiveDocument.AttachedTemplate.FullName
    Documents.Add Template:=tmpName, NewTemplate:=False
    Selection.ParagraphFormat.TabStops.ClearAll
    With Selection
        For j = 1 To WordNum
            .TypeText Text:=Trim(Str(Freq(j))) & vbTab & Words(j) & vbCrLf
        Next j
    End With
    System.Cursor = wdCursorNormal
    j = MsgBox("There were " & Trim(Str(WordNum)) & _
        " different words ", vbOKOnly, "Finished")
End Sub

When you open a document and run this macro, you are asked if you want to create a list sorted by word or by frequency. If you choose word, then the resulting list is shown in alphabetical order. If you choose frequency, then the resulting list is in descending order based on how many times the word appeared in the document.

While the macro is running, the status bar indicates what is happening. Depending on the size of your document and the speed of your computer, the macro may take a while to complete. (I ran it with a 719-page document with over 349,000 words and it took about five minutes to complete.)

Note that there is a line in the macro that sets a value in the Excludes string. This string contains words that the macro will ignore when putting together the word list. If you want to add words to the list, simply add them to the string, between [square brackets]. Also, make sure the exclusion words are in lowercase.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (879) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Mixing Column Formats On a Page

Want to switch the number of columns used for your text, in the middle of a page? You can do this very easily by following ...

Discover More

Summing Digits in a Value

Want to add up all the digits in a given value? It's a bit trickier than it may at first seem.

Discover More

Specifying an Order for Drawing Objects

Drawing objects can be layered over each other in almost any manner you desire. If you want to change the order in which ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Determining the Number of Fonts Available

When creating a macro, you may need to figure out how many fonts are available to Word. You can do this using the FontNames ...

Discover More

Determining the Number of Pages in Your Document

If your macro needs to know how many pages are in your document, you can use the Information method to get the desired info. ...

Discover More

Converting Inches to Points

Typographical measurements are often expressed in points. There are several formatting settings that, when accessed through a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 4?

2017-09-22 06:05:31

Ken Endacott

John

See the tip and discussions at:
https://wordribbon.tips.net/T010761_Generating_a_Count_of_Word_Occurrences


2017-09-21 15:05:38

John

is it possible to have the macro only list if a word is used more than once?


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.