Outliner total word count issue

I just downloaded 1.5 and am still in love with Scrivener (I bought a MacBook just to use it, after working with PCs for over 20 years, so I think that pretty much says it all).

I really like the Total Words feature in the Outliner, but it doesn’t seem to be counting the words of the highest container in the selection. At first I thought it was because I had folders with text, but converting those to text documents didn’t solve the issue. And those same folders/documents are included in the word count as long as there is another container above them. So it appears that the words of whatever container is in the header view don’t get counted in Outliner.

Or am I (entirely possible) missing something?


I’m not quite sure what you mean. The total word count for a folder or container counts the words for that container and all of its subdocuments. Is that not what you are seeing? Could you post a screenshot?

Thanks for your quick response, Keith. Here’s a screenshot. Note that it does not include the 26 words that are in the ABC Folder listed in the header:

Here’s another screenshot. I added a top-level folder with 9 words. Note that those 9 words are not included in the total, though the ABC folder’s 26 words, which were excluded when it was at the top, are there now:

This is only in outline view, by the way; the proper totals appear in Edit Scrivenings.

Hope this makes more sense now.


I think I might understand the source of confusion. When you select a container and display its contents in the Outliner, the selected container is not part of the content selection. It’s name appears in the header bar, yes, but that by visual and logical determination is not part of the outline, it is the sheet of paper that the outline is printed on, to put it into metaphor. So yes, the contents of the container are not counted until you select a view in which the container, and its children, are included in the same view.

So, the outliner displays the contents of a Binder selection. The totals column works with the contents and does not assume anything about items outside of its context.

Further, the total column operates on that particular line item and its children. It does not add the contents of its parent to the total. All of these screenshots you have displayed are logical when you work in that definition. Operating otherwise would be a confusing proposition, should the 9 words of the top level folder be added to the first set or the second? It shouldn’t be added to both because that would inflate word counts. You get a total, including container, in Edit Scrivenings, because then you are working in a linear view, not a hierarchal outliner view. It’s a bit different.

Thanks for the explanation, Amber. I get the logic of it now.


Hi Amber,

I was also confused by this, having just imported a book of 48 chapters into Scrivener that I need to prune down by about 20% overall.

I was going to use the two-pane editor approach mentioned by Hugh with the original draft alongside the one I was editing, hoping to compare individual word counts chapter by chapter as I went along while still keeping an eye on the overall count.

Do I understand that in order to do this I need to create a new folder within (immediately beneath) the Draft folder, in which I put all my chapters, and that when I open that new folder in Outline the Total Word Count will appear on its line?


The rule of thumb is: the Outliner (and Corkboard) display the contents of the selected Binder item. They do not display the Binder item itself, but its contents. So it follows, if you need to monitor a top-level thing for its total size, then you must select something which “contains” it (usually the Draft), or create something to contain it if nothing exists. There is one blind-spot and that is top-level items in the Binder itself (outside of the Draft). You can’t get an outline on the entire project, so to monitor these top-level folders they must be moved into something.

The Draft serves as a container though, click on it and choose Outliner mode to see, so you may not need to put stuff into other stuff to view them. And of course, remember if you need a global word count you have the project statistics window.