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

Counting words in Excel might seem like a task that the program isn’t built for, but it’s actually quite simple once you know how. As you may already know, Excel is great for crunching numbers and organizing data, but it can also help you with word-related tasks. If you have a list of phrases or paragraphs in Excel and you need to know how many words there are, you can accomplish that with a few easy steps.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Count Words in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. Excel doesn’t have a built-in word count function like Microsoft Word, but we can create a formula to do it for us. We’ll be using some basic Excel functions to count the number of words in a cell.

Step 1: Select the Cell

Click on the cell where you want the word count to appear.

In this step, you’re choosing the location for your word count. It’s a good idea to select a cell next to the cell that contains the text you’re counting.

Step 2: Enter the Formula

Type in the formula =LEN(TRIM(A1))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1,” “,””))+1, then press Enter.

This formula might look complicated, but here’s how it works: LEN calculates the length of the text, TRIM removes any extra spaces, and SUBSTITUTE gets rid of the spaces between words. This tells us how many spaces there are, and since there’s typically a space between each word, the number of spaces plus one equals the number of words.

Step 3: Copy the Formula

If you want to count words in other cells, copy the formula and paste it into the cells where you want the word count to show up.

Once you’ve got the formula working for one cell, you can easily apply it to others by copying and pasting. This is handy if you have multiple cells of text and need a word count for each one.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a reliable word count for any text in your Excel spreadsheet. This can be particularly helpful for writers, editors, or anyone needing to track word usage in their data.

Tips for Counting Words in Excel

  • Double-check the formula to ensure it’s entered correctly. A small typo can cause it to not work properly.
  • Remember that Excel treats numbers as words too. If your cell includes numbers and you only want to count words, you might need to adjust the formula.
  • Use the TRIM function to avoid counting extra spaces as words.
  • Be careful with cells that have multiple paragraphs. Excel sees a paragraph break as a space, and this can throw off the count.
  • You can use the word count formula in combination with other Excel functions to expand its utility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if there are multiple paragraphs in a cell?

If there are multiple paragraphs in a cell, Excel will still count them as part of the text. However, each line break will be counted as a space, which means each new paragraph will add an extra word to the count.

Can I use this formula to count characters instead of words?

Yes, you can modify the formula to count characters by using =LEN(A1). This will give you the total number of characters, including spaces.

Will this formula count numbers as words?

Yes, the formula considers numbers as words. If you need to exclude numbers from the word count, you’ll need a more complex formula or to manually subtract the count of numbers.

What if I have a list of words separated by commas?

If your list of words is separated by commas, you’ll need to adjust the formula to =LEN(TRIM(A1))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1,”,”,””))+1 to account for the commas instead of spaces.

Can I count words across multiple cells at once?

To count words across multiple cells, you’ll need to use a combination of functions or add the word counts of individual cells together.


  1. Select the cell for the word count to appear.
  2. Enter the formula for counting words.
  3. Copy and paste the formula for multiple cells.


Counting words in Excel might not be as straightforward as hitting a ‘word count’ button, but with the right formula, it’s a breeze. Whether you’re managing lists of items, drafting short paragraphs, or just curious about your data, knowing how to count words in Excel is an incredibly useful skill. The key is understanding the functions and how they work together to analyze your text. With practice, you’ll find that Excel’s capabilities go far beyond numbers and can help you with a wide range of data analysis tasks. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch your Excel proficiency grow!

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