How to Check Word Count on Google Docs

Use the word count shortcut or try an add-on

Whether you're a student or a professional, you may need to stick to a word limit when writing 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 Docs' word count can differ from the counts of other apps.

How to Check Word Count on Google Docs

Checking your Google Docs word count is simple. You can do it in a couple of ways.

Check Word Count Using a Shortcut

In macOS, press Command+Shift+C. In Windows, press Ctrl+Shift+C to open the Word count window that contains the information.

The Word count window in Google Docs

Check Word Count Using the Toolbar

You can also check word count on Google Docs by using the toolbar rather than a keyboard shortcut by selecting Word Count under the Tools menu.

The Tools menu with Word count highlighted

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

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

How to Download a Browser Word Count Add-On

  1. Select Add-ons at the top of the page.

    Google Docs with Add-ons highlighted
  2. Select Get add-ons in the drop-down menu.

    Get add-ons selected in Google Docs
  3. Type Word count into the search field.

    The Add-ons screen with Word count in the search field
  4. Scroll down in the results to Better Word Count and select the blue + Free button to download the add-on.

    Better Word Count add-on for Google Docs with Free button highlighted
  5. Choose an account to link the Better Word Count app.

    An account chosen for the add-on
  6. Select Allow to grant the necessary permissions to the app.

    Permission for Add-on to access account with Allow highlighted

How to Use a Word Count Add-on in Google Docs

Here's how to use the add-on you downloaded in Google Docs.

  1. Select Add-ons at the top of the page.

    Google Docs with Add-ons highlighted
  2. Select Better Word Count in the drop-down menu.

    Better Word Count add-on selected in drop-down menu
  3. Select Open Tools.

    Open tools chosen in the add-on menu

This process brings up a sidebar that shows users the 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.

Word Count panel added to Google Docs

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

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 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.