Excel Tutorial: How To Count The Words In Excel


When working with data in Excel, it's important to be able to analyze and manipulate the information in various ways. Counting words in Excel is a valuable skill for anyone who needs to track the length of text or analyze the frequency of certain words in a document or data set. In this tutorial, we will walk through the steps to count the words in Excel, providing you with a useful tool for data analysis and reporting.

Throughout this tutorial, we will cover the simple steps to counting words in Excel, empowering you to efficiently manage and analyze text data within your spreadsheets.

Key Takeaways

  • Counting words in Excel is a valuable skill for data analysis and reporting.
  • The WORD function in Excel can be used to count words in a cell.
  • Utilize the SUMPRODUCT function to count words in a range of cells.
  • Be mindful of special cases such as punctuation, merged cells, and hidden characters when counting words.
  • Consider creating a word count macro for efficient word counting in Excel.

Understanding the Word Count Function in Excel

When working with text data in Excel, it can be useful to know the number of words in a cell. The Word Count function in Excel allows you to easily count the words in a cell or a range of cells. This can be beneficial for tasks such as analyzing text data, creating word clouds, or simply understanding the length of a piece of text.

A. Explanation of the WORD function in Excel

  • Function: The WORD function in Excel returns the nth word from a text string. It takes the following syntax: =WORD(number, text), where "number" is the position of the word to return and "text" is the text string.
  • Usage: The WORD function is commonly used in conjunction with other functions to manipulate and analyze text data in Excel.

B. How to use the function to count words in a cell

  • Select the cell: Start by selecting the cell or range of cells containing the text for which you want to count the words.
  • Enter the formula: In a separate cell, enter the formula =IF(A1="",0,LEN(TRIM(A1))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1," ",""))+1), where "A1" is the reference to the cell containing the text. This formula first removes any leading or trailing spaces from the text using the TRIM function, then calculates the difference in length between the original text and the text with spaces replaced by nothing, and finally adds 1 to account for the first word.
  • Press Enter: After entering the formula, press Enter to calculate the word count.

Counting Words in a Range of Cells

When working with large sets of data in Excel, it’s often useful to be able to count the number of words within a range of cells. This can be especially helpful when analyzing text-heavy content, such as survey responses or written feedback. Thankfully, Excel offers a built-in function that makes this task relatively straightforward.

Utilizing the SUMPRODUCT function to count words in a range of cells

SUMPRODUCT is a versatile function that can be used for a variety of calculations in Excel. It is particularly useful for counting the words in a range of cells. To do this, you can use the following formula:


This formula works by first calculating the total number of characters in each cell in the specified range, and then subtracting the number of characters in each cell after all spaces have been removed. By adding 1 to the result, you effectively count the number of words in each cell. Finally, the SUMPRODUCT function adds up the word counts for all the cells in the range.

Tips for selecting the correct cell range for accurate word count

  • Choose the appropriate range: When using the SUMPRODUCT function to count words, it’s important to select the correct range of cells. Make sure to only include the cells that actually contain the text you want to count, and exclude any empty cells or extraneous data.
  • Be mindful of formatting: If your cells contain any special formatting, such as line breaks or non-standard characters, it can affect the accuracy of the word count. Ensure that the cells are formatted consistently and free from any hidden characters that could skew the results.
  • Consider using named ranges: To make your formulas more readable and easier to manage, consider using named ranges for the cell range you want to count. This can help prevent errors and make your spreadsheet more user-friendly.

Dealing with Special Cases

When counting words in Excel, there are certain special cases that need to be handled to ensure accurate results. Here are a few special cases that you should consider:

A. Handling punctuation and special characters when counting words
  • Using the SUBSTITUTE function: If your text contains a lot of punctuation or special characters, you can use the SUBSTITUTE function to remove them before counting the words. For example, you can use =SUBSTITUTE(A1, ",", "") to remove all commas from cell A1.
  • Using a custom formula: If the SUBSTITUTE function isn't sufficient, you can create a custom formula using a combination of functions like SUBSTITUTE, LEN, and TRIM to remove unwanted characters and count the words accurately.

B. Addressing potential issues with merged cells and hidden characters
  • Unmerging cells: Merged cells can cause issues when counting words, as the text within the merged cells is no longer treated as separate entries. Unmerge the cells before counting the words to ensure accurate results.
  • Removing hidden characters: Hidden characters, such as non-printing characters or extra spaces, can affect word count. Use the CLEAN or TRIM function to remove these hidden characters from the text before counting the words.

Creating a Word Count Macro

When working with large amounts of text in Excel, it can be useful to have a word count feature to quickly analyze the amount of content in a given cell or range of cells. One way to achieve this functionality is by creating a word count macro.

A. Exploring the option of creating a word count macro in Excel

1. Understanding macros in Excel

Macros in Excel are a series of commands and functions that are stored in a VBA module and can be executed to automate repetitive tasks. By creating a word count macro, you can streamline the process of counting words in your Excel worksheets.

2. Benefits of a word count macro

A word count macro can save time and effort by providing an efficient way to analyze the content of your cells. It can be especially useful when dealing with large datasets or textual information.

B. How to set up and use the macro for efficient word counting

1. Opening the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) Editor

To create a word count macro, you will need to access the VBA Editor in Excel. This can be done by pressing Alt + F11 on your keyboard, or by navigating to the "Developer" tab and clicking on "Visual Basic".

2. Writing the VBA code for word counting

Once in the VBA Editor, you can create a new module and write the VBA code for the word count macro. This code will include instructions for counting the words in a specified cell or range of cells.

3. Assigning the macro to a button or shortcut

After writing the VBA code, you can assign the macro to a button or create a keyboard shortcut for easy access. This will allow you to quickly execute the word count macro whenever needed.

4. Testing the word count macro

Before using the word count macro in your actual worksheets, it's important to test it to ensure that it functions as intended. This can help identify and address any potential errors or issues.

Tips for Enhancing Word Count Accuracy

When using Excel to count words, it's important to ensure accuracy and precision in the counting process. Here are some tips to avoid common mistakes and enhance the accuracy of word counts.

A. Avoiding common mistakes when counting words in Excel

  • Avoid including non-text data: When counting words in Excel, make sure to exclude any non-text data such as numbers, symbols, and special characters. Including these in the word count can lead to inaccurate results.
  • Handle hyphens and apostrophes carefully: Pay attention to words that contain hyphens or possessive forms with apostrophes. Excel may count these as separate words if not handled correctly.
  • Account for line breaks and spaces: Excel may not always recognize line breaks or extra spaces, leading to discrepancies in word counts. Be diligent in checking for and removing any unnecessary line breaks or spaces before counting words.

B. Using additional functions and formulas to double-check word counts

  • Utilize the LEN function: The LEN function in Excel can be helpful in double-checking word counts by providing the total number of characters in a cell. While this won't give an exact word count, it can be used as a supplementary tool for accuracy.
  • Combine functions for more precision: By combining functions such as SUBSTITUTE, TRIM, and LEN, you can create a more comprehensive formula for counting words in Excel. This can help in dealing with non-text characters and ensuring a more accurate word count.
  • Consider using macros: For more complex and extensive word counting tasks, creating a macro in Excel can streamline the process and minimize the risk of errors. Macros can be customized to account for specific requirements and improve accuracy.


Counting words in Excel is a crucial skill for anyone who works with data or documents. Accurate word counts are important for everything from creating reports to analyzing content for marketing purposes. As you continue to practice and apply the teachings of this tutorial, you will become more proficient in using Excel for word counting and be able to produce more precise and reliable results.

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