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How to Check Word Count for Your Essays in Word [For Students]

April 24, 2024
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Many academic programs require you to write essays, and it's crucial to perform well because essays play a significant role in your overall assessment. Whether applying to college or completing assignments in your courses, writing strong essays is essential. You'll need to craft compelling essays throughout your academic journey, from admission essays that make you stand out to course assignments that contribute to your grades. These essays often come with a word limit that you must meet. In this article, we will guide you on how to check the word count in Word documents for students.

How to Check Word Count for Your Essays in Word

How to Check Word Count for Your Essays in Word

How many Words do you need in an Essay?

Throughout your academic journey, you'll be expected to write essays that vary greatly in length and complexity. From high school assignments requiring a concise 300-word response to graduate school theses that may reach 5,000 words or more, you'll find yourself adapting to a range of word limits and formats.

Here's an overview of typical word count ranges for various academic essays:

  • High School Essay: 300–1,000 words

  • College Admission Essay: 200–650 words

  • Undergraduate College Essay: 1,500–5,000 words

  • Graduate School Admission Essay: 500–1,000 words

  • Graduate School Essay/Thesis: 2,500–6,000 words

While these word count ranges provide a general guideline, it's essential to remember that the content's quality is more important than the quantity. Essays that meet or exceed the word limit may still fall short if they lack clarity, coherence, or depth. Conversely, a shorter essay that's well-organized and thoughtfully written can make a stronger impression.

When considering essay length, keep these factors in mind:

  • Purpose and Scope: Short essays usually focus on a specific topic, while longer essays require more comprehensive analysis and discussion. Determine the purpose of your essay to guide its length.

  • Intended Audience: Consider who will be reading your essay. Some readers may prefer detailed exploration, while others may only need a brief summary.

  • Format and Guidelines: Academic essays often come with specific guidelines for length. For instance, high school English essays may be around 400–600 words, while undergraduate essays in the social sciences and humanities often range from 2,500 to 3,000 words.

While the number of words can indicate an essay's scope, it's crucial to focus on structure, relevance, and engagement. Essays that are well-crafted, with a clear thesis, supporting evidence, and thoughtful analysis, are more likely to earn higher marks, regardless of the word count.

How to Check Word Count in Word for Students Writing Essay Assignments

Working on a thesis or research paper is already a challenging and intellectually demanding task, especially with specific rules and regulations regarding word counts for different academic styles. Some academic styles require you to report the number of words including or excluding certain parts of your work. Students often struggle with figuring out how to calculate word count, whether to include the abstract or combine footnotes. However, there's no need to stress over this, as Microsoft Word offers a feature to assist with this. It may be a bit tricky, but it's available. Let's take a look at a few examples.

How to Check the Word Count in Word Excluding the Abstract of the Paper:

Now, let's say your professor asks you to remove the in-text citations from your document, which are also included in the original word count. In such a case, manually going through each citation and removing them from the word count can be time-consuming. However, with some wildcards and the replace tool in Microsoft Word, this task can be done quickly.

While Microsoft Word is the go-to tool for most students, it often proves to be ineffective. That's why I'll be using a cost-effective and more advanced alternative: WPS Office. This tool not only aligns with students' needs but also makes editing papers much easier. Let's see how to use wildcards and the replace tool in WPS Writer to accomplish this task more efficiently.

Step 1: Open the research paper in WPS Writer.


Step 2: Next, simply click on the "Replace" option to open the Replace tool in WPS Writer. Alternatively, use the "CTRL + H" shortcut key.

WPS Writer Replace feature



Step 3: In the Find and Replace dialog, click on the "More" button to view more options available.

More options in Find and Replace



Step 4: In the Search options section, check the "Use wildcards" option.

Use wildcards to replace in WPS Writer



Step 5: Now, go back to the "Find what" field and enter the following:  \(*\)

Step 6: Leave the "Replace with" field blank and then click on the "Replace All" button.

Replacing using wildcards in WPS Writer



Step 7: WPS Writer will notify you about the number of replacements that were made. Click on "OK".

Replacements made in Microsoft Word



Step 8: Once completed, exit the Find and Replace dialog box by clicking on "Close".

Close Find and Replace in WPS Writer



Step 9: Now, you can view the word count either at the bottom left in the Status Bar or visit the Review tab and click on "Word Count" to get a more comprehensive view of the word count of your document.

Word Count using WPS Writer


Note: If your referencing style employs [] or {} brackets instead of (), you can substitute the () in the character string, and it will still function correctly.
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How to Check Word Count in Word Including Footnotes,Endnotes and Text Boxes in a Paper:

To ensure the inclusion of footnotes, endnotes, and text boxes in the word count, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open your essay in WPS Writer and navigate to the "Review" tab.

Step 2: Click on the "Word Count" button in the Review ribbon menu.

Word Count in WPS Writer



Step 3: The Word Count dialog box will appear, displaying all the statistics of your essay.

Step 4: Check the "Include textboxes, footnotes, and endnotes" checkbox to ensure that the word counter considers textboxes, footnotes, and endnotes as well.

Include textboxes, footnotes, and endnotes in Word Count


Bonus

If you need to perform a simple word count for a selection, use your mouse to highlight the text you want to count, and you'll see the word count of the selected text at the bottom left in the Status Bar.

Word Count of selected words or paragraphs in WPS Writer


How to Check Word Count in Word Using Shortcuts

Need to quickly check your word count in Word? There's a handy shortcut! Simply press Ctrl + Shift + G on your keyboard, and a window will pop up displaying your document's word count, character count.

As a student, it's essential to pay attention to word count, not just to ensure you meet the minimum requirement but also because some professors penalize you for exceeding it. Thanks to advanced writing tools, keeping track of word count has become quite easy. Simply glancing at the status bar gives me a glimpse of the word count, but if I ever need more detailed statistics, using a keyboard shortcut provides quick access to the word count. Then, simply press the "ESC" key to exit and continue writing. Having a word counter in your writing software provides great convenience.

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Tips to Write Essays within the Word Limit

Reducing an essay's word count while maintaining its impact can be challenging, especially when we consider that humans now officially have the attention span of a goldfish. According to a Microsoft study, we lose concentration after eight seconds—shorter than the nine-second attention span of a goldfish. Given this, communication must adapt to capture the reader's attention quickly. If you need to shorten your essay to meet a specific word limit, here are some practical techniques to help:

Start with AI Assistance

WPS AI: This AI tool can be your first step in writing or rewriting content to meet word count limits. If your essay is too long, WPS AI can suggest rewording or condensing, allowing you to maintain clarity and coherence while reducing the overall length.

Tips for Cutting Words

Reword Sentences: Look for long-winded sentences and find ways to reword them more succinctly. For example, "This means methods of communication must adapt in order for us to capture our audience’s attention" can be shortened to "Communication methods must adapt to capture our audience’s attention."

  • Remove Redundancy: Identify repetitive information or phrases and remove them. If you're saying the same thing in different ways, consolidate.

  • Eliminate Extraneous Words: Words like "very," "extremely," "actually," and others can often be removed without changing the meaning of a sentence. Similarly, phrases like "in order to" can be shortened to "to."

  • Focus on Active Voice: Active voice generally requires fewer words and is more direct. Rewrite passive voice sentences to make them more concise and impactful.

  • Use Abbreviations: In many cases, abbreviations can help reduce word count without sacrificing clarity. Common examples include "MD" for "Managing Director," "e.g." for "for example," and "SEO" for "Search Engine Optimization."

  • Check for Unnecessary Spacing and Hyphenation: Sometimes, words can be shortened by eliminating extra spaces or using hyphenation. For instance, "year on year" can be hyphenated to "year-on-year," reducing word count without losing meaning.

  • Edit Ruthlessly: Read through your essay with a critical eye. Cut out anything that doesn't add value to your argument or that deviates from the main topic. Be willing to remove content, even if you like it, if it doesn't serve the essay's purpose.

Reducing word count while maintaining content quality requires a combination of techniques. From rewording sentences to removing redundancy, many strategies can help you meet word limits without sacrificing the essay's impact. Remember that the goal is not just to meet the word count but to create an engaging, clear, and effective piece of writing. Whether using AI tools like WPS AI or manually editing your content, the key is to be concise, focused, and clear.

Write a Better Essay with WPS Office

WPS Office is a goldmine for writers and students, offering a comprehensive solution to meet all your academic writing needs. Equipped with a robust suite of tools, it provides everything from a writer's toolkit to a PDF editor, along with AI-powered features like an integrated AI writing assistant and AI proofreader. Moreover, WPS Office is seamlessly compatible with Microsoft Word, so you won't encounter any issues if you prefer working with Word documents.

WPS Writer



Price: WPS Office is ideal for students because it's available at no cost. You get professional-grade office software without having to pay a premium.

Compatibility: It works across various devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. You can easily connect and switch between platforms without losing functionality.

WPS Writer compatibility with different file formats



Features: WPS Office provides a wide range of templates, including resumes, which are especially useful for students preparing for internships or job interviews after graduation.

User-Friendly Interface: The intuitive interface allows you to manage multiple files with ease. With split-screen capabilities, you can work on different documents side-by-side without any hassle.

WPS Writer User Friendly interface



WPS AI: This integrated AI tool is invaluable when you need help with your academic papers. Whether you're over the word limit or need to add more content, WPS AI can help you reword, summarize, or expand your text to meet the requirements.

WPS Office combines a user-friendly interface with powerful features, making it an ideal choice for students and writers. The software's compatibility with Microsoft Word ensures that you can collaborate with others or submit assignments in popular formats without any issues. Additionally, the inclusion of WPS AI means you have a handy assistant for enhancing your writing, adjusting word count, and proofreading your work.

With WPS Office, you'll have the tools you need to create, edit, and share academic content with ease. From simple essays to complex reports, this software package provides a reliable and efficient solution for all your academic writing tasks. And with a wealth of additional features, like resume templates and split-screen capabilities, it's more than just a word processor—it's a comprehensive platform designed with students and writers in mind.

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FAQs about word count in word for students

1. Can word count be automatically updated in Word?

Yes, you can automatically update the word count in Word. To do this:

Step 1: Position your cursor where you'd like the word count displayed, such as in the Header or Footer.

Step 2: Click on the Insert tab.

Step 3: Click the "Quick Parts" icon. You can find the Quick Parts icon towards the right-hand end of the toolbar.

Step 4: From the drop-down menu, choose Field.

Step 5: In the Field window that opens, scroll down the list in the left-hand pane and select NumWords.

Step 6: Click OK. It adds a field to your document that shows the word count automatically.

2. How many pages is 1000 words?

The number of pages for 1000 words varies depending on factors like font size, type, line spacing, and margins. Typically, a page with standard formatting (12-point font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins) holds around 250-300 words.

3. Does Word have a Word Count limit?

Word imposes a limit on the number of words that can be typed in a single document, determined by the operating system's file size restriction. For instance, the file size limit for a .docx file, Word's default format, is 2 gigabytes (GB). The actual word count depends on factors like font size, style, margins, and spacing. Typically, a single-spaced document with a 12-point font and standard margins accommodates around 500-600 words per page. Consequently, a 2 GB file size can store approximately 4-5 million pages of text in a text-only document.

Word Count Management Made Easy with WPS Office

As much as staying within the word count in Word for students is crucial, but it's common to either overshoot or fall short of the required limit. To help students stay on track, having tools that visibly display word count can be invaluable. WPS Office offers this functionality, with a clear and upgraded word count indicator, ensuring you always know where you stand. Also, WPS AI helps adjust your text to meet the desired word limit, offering suggestions to expand or condense your content as needed. Download WPS Office for an efficient way to manage word counts and keep your essays within the required boundaries.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.