Running Word Counts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 2, 2013)

Word provides a built-in tool that allows you to get a count of the number of words in your document. However, some people prefer to have a constantly updated count of words in their document. In that way, they can keep an eye on the word counter and stop writing when they have reached the desired number of words in their document.

Unfortunately, Word does not provide a built-in running word count that you can turn on or off. You can, however, create a macro that will provide the necessary information for you. The following nifty macro will display a constantly updating word count at the end of the formatting toolbar:

Sub WordCounter()
    Set myBar = CommandBars("Formatting")
    Set myControls = myBar.Controls
    NumButtons = myControls.Count

    ButtonLoc = 0
    For J = 1 To NumButtons
        If myControls(J).Type = msoControlButton Then
            ButtonName$ = myControls(J).OnAction
            If ButtonName$ = "WordCounter" Then ButtonLoc = J
        End If
    Next J

    If ButtonLoc = 0 Then
        ButtonLoc = NumButtons + 1
        Set newControl = myControls.Add(Type:=msoControlButton)
        newControl.OnAction = "WordCounter"
        newControl.Style = msoButtonCaption
    End If

    Set myRange = ActiveDocument.Content
    WdCount = myRange.ReadabilityStatistics(1).Value
    With myControls(ButtonLoc)
        .Caption = WdCount
    End With

    Application.OnTime When:=Now + TimeSerial(0, 0, 5), _
      Name:="WordCounter"
End Sub

Note that this macro adds the word count at the end of the formatting toolbar when it first runs. The toolbar button stays there from then on. If you later modify your toolbar so the button is not at the end of the toolbar, the macro will find it and act accordingly.

When you first start Word (after having run this macro), you will need to click on the toolbar button to start the macro. Of course, you can create a separate AutoStart macro that would run WordCounter when you first begin Word.

One thing to note about the macro is that it reruns every five seconds. If this is too often, you can change the value (5) in the TimeSerial function near the end of the macro. Depending on the speed of your system, you may note a slight disturbing screen flicker every time the macro runs, but you will definitely have an updated word count. If you instead want the word count only when you click on the button on the toolbar, simply remove the Application.OnTime line near the end of the macro.

If you want to remove the macro so it does not run any more, you should follow these three simple steps:

  1. Exit Word.
  2. Restart Word. The macro is now not running.
  3. Edit your formatting toolbar to remove the WordCounter button.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1745) 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. ...

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