Typing out essays and theses on a computer is obligatory in colleges and universities nowadays. Most academic documents are restricted in length, be it 1,000 or 80,000 words. It's important to stay within the limit, as exceeding the limit can incur a penalty. Similarly, writing too few words can cost you marks [source: City University]. Most people type out their documents in Microsoft Word. However not everyone is familiar with Word's many little tricks. Here's how to count the number of words in your document using Microsoft Word.

In order to count words, the computer has to know what words you want to count. You tell it this information by highlighting the text in question. If this is the entire document, press the Ctrl key and press the A key at the same time. This will highlight the whole text. You can remove your fingers and the text will remain highlighted.

Here's how to count words in Microsoft Word 2003:

  1. Select Tools from the tool bar on the top of the page.
  2. Select Word Count from the dropdown menu that appears. A box will appear, giving you information about the text that you highlighted, including the number of words it contains.
  3. Include the words in the footnotes and endnotes if those words are counted in the total number of words allowed in your paper. Simply click on Include footnotes and endnotes, in the lower left corner of the box, and these words will be included in the total number of words [source: Microsoft].

Here's how to count words in Microsoft Word 2007:

  1. Highlight the text whose words you would like to count. The number of words you've highlighted will be displayed on the status bar at the bottom of the screen, as a fraction of the total number of words in the document.
  2. Include footnotes in the word count by selecting Review on the toolbar. Then select Proofing, and then Word Count. Select Include Textboxes, Footnotes and Endnotes. The total number of words counted will be displayed in the status bar [source: Microsoft].