Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Counting Words.

Counting Words

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 15, 2020)


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
                NumWords = 0
            End If
            While InStr(Raw, " ") > 0
                Raw = Mid(Raw, InStr(Raw, " "))
                Raw = Trim(Raw)
                NumWords = NumWords + 1
            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.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11748) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel 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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What is five more than 7?

2020-05-15 04:23:07


Hello Allen,

For counting words, you can use this formula (the cell to test is in F5)

=LEN(F5)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(F5," ",""))+1

If you consider the words are separated by a space...

Kind Regards

(from FRANCE)

2016-08-19 11:23:05

Willy Vanhaelen

@Thomas Papavasiliou
Thanks for the compliment.
In the following macro I reversed the Trim and Replace functions so the new line characters Chr(10) are replaced with a space first and then the Trim function replaces the double spaces with only one. This corrects the count in the case of a new line followed by a space.

Sub CountWords()
Dim cell As Range, Raw As Variant, X As Integer
For Each cell In Selection
If Not cell.HasFormula Then
X = X + UBound(Split(Application.Trim(Replace(cell, Chr(10), " ")))) + 1
End If
Next cell
MsgBox "There are " & X & " words in the selection."
End Sub

As for your second request (limit rows), years ago I developed a UDF that does just that:

Private Function AdjustedSelection() As Range
Dim Area As Range, Lcc As Integer, Lcr As Long, C As Integer, R As Long
Set AdjustedSelection = Selection.Cells(1) '}
Lcc = Selection.SpecialCells(xlLastCell).Column '}initialize
Lcr = Selection.SpecialCells(xlLastCell).Row '}
For Each Area In Selection.Areas 'loop through all selected areas
R = Area.Rows(Area.Rows.Count).Row 'area's bottommost row
If Lcr < R Then R = Lcr 'if LastCell's row is less: adjust
C = Area.Columns(Area.Columns.Count).Column 'area's rightmost column
If Lcc < C Then C = Lcc 'if LastCell's column is less: adjust
Set AdjustedSelection = Union(AdjustedSelection, Range(Area.Cells(1), Cells(R, C)))
Next Area
End Function

To use it just replace 'For Each cell In Selection' with 'For Each cell In AdjustedSelection'.
On my website ( is explained in detail how it works.

2016-08-18 10:13:06

Thomas Papavasiliou

The macro proposed 13 Aug 2016, by Willy Vanhaelen is brilliant and very fast.

Following a couple of runs I think that two minor improvements would make it even better.

The improvements are:
• Process cases where we have a sequence of Chr(10) and space that gives an erroneous result.
• Limit the rows to process in cases where user selects an entire column. Selecting an entire column is handy if we have data exceeding several screens and containing empty cells.

Regardless of my remarks, I repeat that the macro is brilliant.

I will be very happy if Willy Vanhaelen proposes a new version.

2016-08-13 11:34:51

Brian Canes

If there is a line wrap there is not necessarily a new word. Suppose | represents a newline char(10). If a phrase is "The Trumpire State Building" and it is wrapped like "The Trump|ire State Building" then the number of words is unchanged = 4. It does not become 5.

2016-08-13 11:19:02

Brian Canes

UDF (User Defined Function)
Function words(where As Range) As Long
Dim what As Range
With Application
For Each what In where
words = words + .Max(, UBound(Split(.Trim(what.Text), " "))) - (Len(what) > 0)
Next what
End With
End Function

2016-08-13 10:47:27

Brian Canes

Here is a single formula to count the number of words in any range named say rng

2016-08-13 09:28:30

Jean-Pierre Degroote (aka JP ROnse)


I believe it can be done with formulas:


2016-08-13 07:56:22

Willy Vanhaelen

The macro in this tip is again way to complicated and it has a bug. When some cells contain wrapped text the word count is incorrect.

My mini-macro deals with it:

Sub CountWords()
Dim cell As Range, Raw As Variant, TotalWords As Integer
For Each cell In Selection
If Not cell.HasFormula Then
Raw = Split(Replace(Application.Trim(cell), Chr(10), " "))
TotalWords = TotalWords + UBound(Raw) + 1
End If
Next cell
MsgBox "There are " & TotalWords & " words in the selection."
End Sub

"Simplicity is the ultimate sofistication (Leonardo da Vinci)"

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