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Counting Words by Chapter

by | Nov 21, 2015 | , | Tools of the Trade | 6 comments

When starting a new project I have found it very useful to develop a chapter-by-chapter word count for the manuscript: this lets me make sure my pace isn’t too fast or too slow and helps me develop a schedule for how many chapters per day I should cover. Developing this count by hand isn’t particularly efficient, so I recently decided to hunt down a macro to handle this work for me.

After a bit of online searching I found a macro posted by onesecondglance that did what I wanted. However it took a long time to analyze book-length Word documents, even after extensive rewriting. To replace it I developed new a macro using code by CuberChase as a starting point.

This macro queries the user for the name of the Word style applied to chapter headings (“Heading 1” is the default) and then counts words from the start of one heading to the start of the next. It also counts any words that appear before the first heading. It then creates a new word document and inserts into it the name of each chapter followed by that chapter’s word count. A tab character is inserted between each chapter name and word count so that the contents can be easily cut and pasted into an Excel spreadsheet.

As written the macro does have a few limitations, which I may get around to addressing if they present a problem:

  • It considers anything formatted using the heading style to be a heading, including blank lines, so make sure that the style is only applied to actual headings.
  • It does not count text in footnotes, endnotes or text boxes.
  • It does not like hidden track changes in headings and has been written to display all revisions before running. Because of this it will extract both the original and revised heading text.


The Code

Code for an updated version of this macro, along with information on the features of this new version, is available on the Macro page.



  1. Jason Tremere

    Thanks for this macro, it did exactly what I was looking for! I had a brief encounter trying to use Scrivener for my first manuscript and it was driving me nuts. So I’m back to using trusty Word. Using the Word Navigation Pane to see/move sections covers the most useful function I saw in Scrivener, but one part missing was seeing Chapter Word Counts/Progress easily. This does it. Thanks again.

  2. Art

    Thank you for sharing this! It works perfectly.

  3. David

    Perfect, thanks! I’d probably rename iArrayCount to iMaxChapterCount. I had more than 100 chapters… 🙂

  4. Helen

    Thank you for this! Wonderful solution. Do you mind if I share this with my editing community (CIEP) via a forum?

    • Michael

      Helen—By all means feel free to repost links to the macro blog post, macro page, or the macro code. I don’t recommend pasting the code into another forum as I update macros when bugs are located. Also, please note that this macro works with well-formed chapter headings, but I’ve ran into manuscripts with ill-conceived Word formatting that can cause the macro to crash or export messy summary content.


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