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Written by Traduality

Traduality helps organizations protect and get closer to its customers, employees, and partners in their native language.

September 23, 2020

How to count the words in a document


When we request the translation of a document we must count the words so that the service provider can give us an accurate quotation, since the cost of a translation work is related to the number of words the document contains, in addition to the deadline we want and the target language.

Counting words seems like a simple task with some documents, as Microsoft Word has a counter at the bottom left. However, scanned documents may complicate things. We’ll explain in this article how to count the words in a document, so you’ll be able to request a quote for your translation.


Count them manually

If you are dealing with a short document that has been scanned, it will be faster to count the words one by one. Doing this won’t be difficult when it comes to identity documents, diplomas or a medical prescriptions. However, if the text is too long, it will be very tedious and you may end up skipping or adding words.


Count by sampling

On average, a paper sheet contains a specific number of words depending on the type of document we are dealing with. If you notice that your document has a similar format on every page, you can make an approximate calculation.

You can take three or four lines of each page and count the amount of words each line contains. Then, you can get an average word count. After that, calculate the number of lines per page, and finally, you will be able to have an average of words per page. This amount is multiplied by the number of pages, and you’re done.


Use text recognition software

There are paid and free text recognition software that will help you count the words on a scanned document. The most used software is ABBYY Finereader Engine (although it’s not a free software).

Other specific tools for word count of digitized documents are Translator’s Abacus (free) and Finecount (paid). Also, there are web pages if you don’t want to install any new software in your computer. However, it is important to consider that if you are working with a confidential document, this may not be the best option.


Use the file source program

When the document opens up with an specific program you can use it to count the words. As we mentioned at the beginning, the easiest and most practical is Microsoft Word because you can see the counter in the lower bar, it works for files with extension *. doc, *. rtf, and *. txt.


For *. pdf files that open with Adobe Acrobat the option is to copy the text and paste it into Microsoft Word, because Adobe Acrobat does not performs the word count. The other option is to convert the file to *. doc if you have Adobe Acrobat Professional. You can do the same with Microsoft Excel *. xls documents.

In Microsoft PowerPoint you only have to go to the “File” tab and then to the “Info” tab, at the bottom right of the list you will see an underlined phrase that says “Show all Properties”, when you press it out the number of words on the top.


We know that there are other formats, but these are the most used today. Now, you know how to count the words of a document that you need to translate so you can request a quote.


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