Total Word Count = Cumulative Word Count?

I thought that Word Count and Total Word Count would be different in Outline mode, but they are identical.

I’d like Word Count to be for each chapter and Total Word Count to be the cumulative amount for that chapter and all preceding chapters. The only way I know to get the totals is to select the chapters you want in the binder and look at the bottom, in Scrivenings mode, to see the total. It would be very helpful to see the cumulative Total Word Count to see how I’m progressing toward the target.

I’m pretty sure this is possible so I must be missing something? Thanks.


  1. The difference between Word Count and Total Word Count shows up on your outline table when you look at containers. Documents can be containers (i.e. have subdocuments in the Binder structure) and Folders can have their own textual content. So, for a container, Word Count shows only the words in its body text, whereas Total Word Count also gives you the word count of the docs it contains.

  2. If you want to see “how you are progressing toward your target” for your project, I think you want Project > Project Targets. Cumulative subtotals don’t show you where you stand in relation to your project target, only the grand total does!* Your current total is also available under Project > Project Statistics.

Anyway, I don’t think there is a way to get running subtotals of the sort you are dreaming of.


  • I totally understand the desire to see those cumulative subtotals, but, when I reflect on it, I don’t know what actual function such cumulative totals would serve, other than they would be sort of gratifying to look at.

Thanks, gr.

Disappointing … but as to the reason, I find it helpful to see how the cumulative pages are stacking up as I progress through the book. Given the typical fiction targets of 90,000 words or so, and the general 3 act structures that usually unfold whether we like it or not, knowing that you’ve barely started winding down the plot at 80,000 words is a good “heads-up” that something needs to change to hit the target and still wrap up the story. Contrarily, if you’re about done with the story and see that you’re at 50,000 words so far, that’s probably not enough.

It’s particularly helpful, at least to me, when I’ve written 130,000 words for a 90,000 word story and need to go through the document to start cutting.

I can see the value in that.

I guess, for a work-around, you could group things into folders in sizeable chunks whose word counts would mean something to you in that way. Act folders, for example.

I am now fantasizing a pie chart where the whole pie represents a total word target and the pieces of the pie represent the word counts of the topmost folders in the Draft folder.

The total word count function would have to be flipped on its head to give a running total as you go down a list of files. But, as gr suggests, creating temporary “Act” folders will solve your issue; load the entire manuscript into the outline view, and you’ll see how many words are in each act. Also, if you go to Scrivener->Preferences->Appearance, and turn on the subdocument counts in binder setting, then you’ll also see how many files and folders are indented beneath each act folder, which could be useful as well.

Once you’re done figuring out the pacing of each act, you can move your chapters out of the Act folders and delete them for compiling the manuscript.

Unless you are using a hierarchy-sensitive compile strategy, you would not even need to do that.

My question is related to this, so hopefully it’s okay to ask in this thread: First, is there a way to only see the subdocument counts in the Draft folder in the Binder, not the Research? It’s helpful to see how scene counts are stacking up in an act, but it’s a bit unwieldy to see all that for my copious amount of research documents. :slight_smile:

Second, is there a way for folders to include a total subdocument word count in the Outliner view? Mine shows 0, and I was hoping that clicking the “show subdocument” option would fix that. Alas!

Thanks for any and all help.

The numbers in the binder are an all-or-nothing setting. I doubt that will change.

In the outliner, you need to enable the “Total wordcount” column to get a sum of a folder’s words and all those in its sub-documents.

Thanks! Didn’t even see that there was a “word count” AND a “total word count” column options in the outliner. Very helpful! :slight_smile:

I’m a new Scrivener user, and this is one of the first issues I encountered.

While a running word count would be useful for ensuring plot points and act boundaries occur where I want them, even more useful would be a percentage. Word count alone means I need to do math in my head.

I was also disappointed to discover I could not edit the target word count for a document while in outline view. Is this right, or am I missing something?

The result is that I need to duplicate the structure of my story or novel in a spreadsheet, add formulas to compute percentages from running total sums, fudge word counts per document (scene, chapter, whatever), and when plot points and acts look like they’re where I want them, go back to Scrivener and, on a per-document basis, set each target word count.

This seems like a horrible workflow, but I don’t know of a way to plan a story more efficiently.

You’re missing something. Make sure the “Target” column is displayed in the Outliner view, then just double-click the one you want to change. You can also display a Progress bar in the Outliner.

Note that the “Total Target” column is not editable: it’s the sum of the targets for the current document and any subdocuments.


Ah. Thanks. That works quite well. So, now I have a pretty workable story planning solution. The percentages (running word count as a percent of manuscript word count) would be a nice addition, but not a requirement.

May I suggest you try the “Total Progress” column in the outliner? It’s not a percentage, but a graphic progress bar. I find it serves my need for “but how close am I to DONE?”answers.

I’d like to second Paul here. A running word count or percentage (percent of goal, not percentage of incomplete manuscript) would be extremely helpful since otherwise it’s something I need to calculate for story structure purposes.

A running word count isn’t really feasible given the way the outliner works, because each row is independent and shows information only for the current document. It doesn’t know about the rows above or below it.

All the best,

I love the word count and target features, but would it be possible to add the percentage also? :slight_smile:

That would really be handy instead of computing it all the time.

Thanks!! :slight_smile: