How to Count Text in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Counting text in Excel can seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple once you know the right functions to use. Excel has built-in functions that allow you to count the number of characters, words, or even specific text within a cell. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to count text in Excel, so you can quickly and easily get the information you need.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Count Text in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s briefly discuss what we’ll be accomplishing. Counting text in Excel can be done using various functions, such as LEN, SUBSTITUTE, and TRIM. By following these steps, you’ll learn how to count characters, words, and specific text within a cell or range of cells.

Step 1: Use the LEN Function to Count Characters

The LEN function in Excel counts the number of characters in a cell, including spaces.

To use the LEN function, simply type =LEN(cell) into a blank cell, where cell is the reference to the cell you want to count characters in. For example, if you want to count the characters in cell A1, you would type =LEN(A1). This function is helpful when you need to know the length of a text string for data validation or formatting purposes.

Step 2: Use SUBSTITUTE and LEN Functions to Count Words

Counting words in Excel requires a combination of the SUBSTITUTE and LEN functions.

First, use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace spaces with nothing, essentially removing them. Then, use the LEN function to count the characters that remain. The formula will look like this: =LEN(TRIM(cell))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(cell," ",""))+1. This calculates the number of words by counting the spaces and adding one (since there’s one more word than there are spaces).

Step 3: Use the COUNTIF Function to Count Specific Text

To count the occurrences of specific text within a cell or range of cells, use the COUNTIF function.

The formula to count specific text is =COUNTIF(range,"text"), where range is the cell or range of cells you want to search, and text is the text you want to count. For example, if you want to count how many times the word “Excel” appears in cells A1 to A10, you would use =COUNTIF(A1:A10,"Excel").

After completing these steps, you’ll have an accurate count of characters, words, or specific text within your Excel spreadsheet. This can be useful for a variety of tasks, such as analyzing survey responses, creating word clouds, or monitoring data entry.

Tips for Counting Text in Excel

  • Use the TRIM function before counting words to remove any extra spaces, which can affect your word count.
  • When counting specific text, ensure that your text is consistent in terms of capitalization, as the COUNTIF function is case-sensitive.
  • To count text across multiple columns or rows, you can use the SUM function in combination with COUNTIF to add up the results from different ranges.
  • Remember that LEN counts all characters, including punctuation and spaces, so consider this when using the function for specific counting purposes.
  • If you want to count only specific characters, you can use the SUBSTITUTE function to remove unwanted characters before using the LEN function.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I count only specific characters in Excel?

To count specific characters, use the SUBSTITUTE function to remove the character from the text, then use the LEN function to compare the original length with the new length. The difference will give you the count of that specific character.

Can I count text in Excel without using formulas?

While formulas are the most efficient way to count text in Excel, you can manually count characters or words by clicking on the cell and looking at the character count in the bottom right corner of the Excel window.

How can I count words in Excel if they’re separated by commas instead of spaces?

You can modify the word-counting formula to account for commas by replacing the space delimiter ” ” with a comma “,” in the SUBSTITUTE function.

Is there a way to count the number of cells that contain text?

Yes, you can use the COUNTA function to count the number of cells in a range that are not empty.

Can Excel differentiate between uppercase and lowercase when counting specific text?

The COUNTIF function is case-sensitive, so it will differentiate between uppercase and lowercase. If you want a case-insensitive count, you can use the LOWER or UPPER function to convert all text to one case before counting.


  1. Use the LEN function to count characters.
  2. Combine SUBSTITUTE and LEN functions to count words.
  3. Use the COUNTIF function to count specific text.


Counting text in Excel is a skill that can come in handy for a variety of tasks, from data analysis to content creation. By familiarizing yourself with functions like LEN, SUBSTITUTE, and COUNTIF, you’ll be able to quickly and accurately count characters, words, and specific text within your spreadsheets. Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to experiment with these functions and see how they can help you in your daily Excel work. With a little bit of patience and some trial and error, you’ll soon become a pro at counting text in Excel. Happy counting!

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