Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Counting Words.

Counting Words

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 19, 2012)

Words are normally associated with a word processor, such as Microsoft Word. However, many people also work with words in their spreadsheet program. (I had a coworker once who used Excel to write memos all the time.) There may be times when you want to count the number of words in a worksheet that you receive from someone. There are native abilities to perform such a task in Word, but not in Excel.

One solution, of course, is to load your workbook into Word, perform the word count there, and then close the file. This is not nearly as flexible, however, as creating a macro to count words within Excel itself. The following macro, CountWords, counts the number of words in any range you select in a worksheet:

Sub CountWords()
    Dim MyRange As Range
    Dim CellCount As Long
    Dim TotalWords As Long
    Dim NumWords As Integer
    Dim Raw As String

    Set MyRange = ActiveSheet.Range(ActiveWindow.Selection.Address)
    TotalWords = 0
    For CellCount = 1 To MyRange.Cells.Count
        If Not MyRange.Cells(CellCount).HasFormula Then
            Raw = MyRange.Cells(CellCount).Value
            Raw = Trim(Raw)
            If Len(Raw) > 0 Then
                NumWords = 1
            Else
                NumWords = 0
            End If
            While InStr(Raw, " ") > 0
                Raw = Mid(Raw, InStr(Raw, " "))
                Raw = Trim(Raw)
                NumWords = NumWords + 1
            Wend
            TotalWords = TotalWords + NumWords
        End If
    Next CellCount
    MsgBox "There are " & TotalWords & " words in the selection."
End Sub

Notice that the macro steps through each cell in the range you select. It then ignores any cell that contains a formula. In all other cells it essentially counts the number of spaces in the cell. (One or more spaces are assumed to separate words.) The word count is then displayed in a message box for your edification.

The macro is pretty quick on relatively small ranges. If you pick a large range (such as the entire worksheet), then the macro can take a great deal of time to finish its work. The point of this is to make sure that you only select the actual range you want to analyze before invoking the macro.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2105) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Counting Words.

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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