Word count for highlighted text

Many of us are suggesting that a fee-based system of pricing for translation, rather than a per-word basis, is more in line with professional services. However, it is often useful to know how many words need translating in a text you are sent – even if only for your own purposes.

I often receive documents from law firms – for example an updated contract or pleadings – where they have highlighted text for translation, and the rest does not need to be touched. In the past I have copied and pasted bits of text to get a word count, but it can take quite a while. And the other day I discovered a fantastic workaround in Microsoft Word that I would like to share with you.

Of course you may already know about this, and if so, my apologies for being slow on the uptake, but if not you may find it useful.

  1. Create a new copy of the file (just to be safe!).
  2. Go to “Advanced Find and Replace”.
  3. Open the “More” dropdown menu, or click on the arrow to reveal more, depending on your version.
  4. Put your curser in the “Find what” box (but don’t write anything), and click “Format”.
  5. Select “Highlight” once, then select it AGAIN. Under “Find what,” it will then say “Format: “Not Highlight”.
  6. In the “Replace with” box, put a blank space (this will prevent words from running together and being counted as a single word).
  7. Hit “Replace All.” You are replacing all non-highlighted text with nothing.
  8. Do a word count, and you’re done!


Hat tip (several in fact) to Abigail Hilton for the above process.

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