Is it possible to do this more nuanced word count?

I’m using Scrivener to write my PhD thesis, and have a big document that represents one chapter of that thesis. That document is divided into a series of folders and sub-documents.

When I look at my thesis in Outline view, the Total Words column gives me a useful word count of the different folders I have in my document (and, ultimately, of the document as a whole). However, I want to exclude some of the sub-documents (rough notes or lists of quotes copied from things I’ve read) that make up my thesis from being counted.

My understanding is that if I un-check the “Include in Compile” box for a specific sub-document and then go to Project > Project Statistics, select the “Options” tab and then select “Count only documents marked for inclusion” under “Selection Statistics Options”, then the word count under the “Statistics” tab will be representative only of those documents that are marked as “Include in Compile”. Is that right?

Also, is it possible to show more fine-grained word counts in the Outline view? Currently everything seems to be included in the count for the “Total Words” column, but I’d like to be able to exclude certain sub-documents from that count.

This is by design as the outliner tool can be used for a wide variety of things, not just viewing components of your work in progress. If it excluded anything that would not compile for one reason or another, then the tool would be useless anywhere outside of the Draft folder.

The actual process used to determine whether something compiles goes a bit deeper than the checkbox. The compiler, particularly in the Contents pane, can set up rules that evaluate documents on the fly, select only sections of the draft and even invert or ignore the “Include” checkboxes. The Formatting compile pane can have a large impact on the count as well, where you can make declarations such as “all folders should not print their text”.

Point being, all of that calculation takes time, and is what makes the Project Statistics panel take a bit to update its count (you won’t notice much early in the project, but at a certain point, I believe around 100k words, Scrivener will even stop doing a full calculation and require you to click a button to update the count). So for accurate counts that is the panel to use.

Yes, that is what you should be seeing in the “Selection” half of the statistics pane. There are two sets of options each correlating to their respective section that make no impact on the other section’s count. The “Draft” section of statistics has fewer options because most of these are set with your compile settings (as above), and the Draft section is calculated by doing a quick simple compile in the background to include even such factors as Replacements expanding an abbreviation into three words, etc. That’s all stuff you can’t count in the editor anyway, meaning the various “real time” counters in the project window itself, such as the outliner columns, are designed for estimation.

Would it make sense for you to use the various annotation tools available in Scrivener? Document notes, Comments (shown in the Inspector), and of course, the synopsis field are all handy places to put notes for a given document without adding to your word count. Also, Project Notes are a good place for notes that pertain to the whole project.

If you just have general notes that belong to a multiple binder items, maybe consider moving the document(s) to the Research folder and using scrivener links (which you can set to open in Quick Reference windows if you want) to keep those notes at hand with minimal (or no) impact to your word count.