How to Check Word Count on Google Docs

Google Docs word count
The Word Count, as it appears in a Google Doc.

Regardless of whether you're a student or a professional, you may often need to stick to a word limit when writing up an essay, report, or article. This guide explains how to check word count on Google Docs, covering how to check directly in the app, and how to check using a browser extension. It also explores how Google Doc's word count can differ from the counts of other apps.

How to Check Word Count on Google Docs

Using the word count shortcut
Checking the word count on Google Docs is as easy as press three keys simultaneously.

Checking your Google Docs word count is simple. Here's how to do it using the word count shortcut:

  1. Open the Google Doc document you wish to check.
  2. On macOS, press Command+Shift+C; on Windows, press Ctrl+Shift+C.

It's as simple as that. However, you can also check word count on Google Docs by using the toolbar rather than a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Open the Google Doc document you wish to check.
  2. Select Tools on the menu bar at the top of the page.
  3. With the drop-down Tools menu opened, scroll down and select Word Count.

How to Check Word Count on Google Docs: Using a Browser Extension

Downloading the Better Word Count add-on
The Better Word Count add-on can be downloaded by clicking Add-ons on the menu bar.

While the above method provides you with an up-to-date word count for your article, some writers may wish to have their Google Docs word count displayed constantly while they write. Unfortunately, Google Docs doesn't provide such functionality, so users have to download a browser add-on:

  1. Open the Google Doc document you wish to check.
  2. Select Add-ons at the top of the page.
  3. Select Get add-ons.
  4. Type Word count into the search bar.
  5. Scroll down to Better Word Count.
  6. Select the blue + Free button to download the add-on.
  7. Choose an account to link the Better Word Count app.
  8. Select Allow to grant the necessary permissions to the app.
Using Better Word Count
The Better Word Count add-on can be used via the menu bar.

Doing this will add the extension to your Google Docs. It can be used in the following way:

  1. Open the Google Doc document you wish to check.
  2. Select Add-ons at the top of the page.
  3. Select Better Word Count.
  4. Select Open Tools.

Completing step 4 will open the add-on, bringing up a sidebar that will show users their word count as they continue to type. This may make for only a subtle change, but it can save a considerable amount of time, particularly when compared to having to open a window whenever you want to check your word count.

How to Check Word Count on Google Docs: Differing Word Counts

Differing word counts
Google Docs' word count can differ from the counts provided by other apps.

Checking Google Docs' word count is simple enough. However, users should be aware of how exactly Google Docs counts words since there are divergences in how different applications calculate their totals.

Google Docs includes em (—) and en (–) dashes in its word count, while Microsoft Word, for example, doesn't. As such, users may find they receive a higher word count from Google's app.

Similarly, people who paste links into their documents may find notice a higher word count with Google Docs than with other applications such as WordPress or Microsoft Word. For instance, "https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-check-word-count-on-google-docs-4172394" is counted by Google Docs as five words, whereas WordPress and Microsoft Word only count it as one.