I have a manuscript of 151,000 words that I’ve compiled in Scrivener and opened with MS Word where the word count is 149,000? I believe I’ve checked carefully and can not come up with a reason for the discrepancy? So I’m wondering if anyone is aware of a reason? perhaps MS Word carries out the computation differently? Thanks!
Different ways of recognising words. See this issue regularly over on NaNoWriMo where a sequence like “word—word” is treated as one word but Scrivener correctly sees it as two separate words.
Thanks for that tip-- it is feasible I suppose that I may have a couple thousand em dashes in the manuscript. If MS Word counted the two words on each side of each dash as just one word, that could explain the discrepancy?
Another common discrepancy is hyphenated word phrases. I’m not sure if there is a difference between how Scrivener and Word count those, but I have seen different word processors consider a hyphenated word to be one or two.
Seen word1…word2 counted as one word too. Most word counters are dumb; Scrivener’s has more intelligence in it and copes with the lexical behaviour of writers better.
This can be a significant issue with respect to legal writing in the United States:
Apparently Word counts hyphenated words differently depending on whether you use a hyphen or en-dash. And:
“Last but not least, we come to the case of the attorney who truly did his best but still ran afoul of the word count limit. Counsel prepared his brief using Microsoft Word 1997. When done, he dutifully highlighted the countable portions of the brief and hit the “word count” button. Alas and alack, if you highlight any text in a Word 97 document, the word count will not include footnotes. Counsel did not realize this (because, seriously, who thought it was a good idea not to count footnotes?), and consequently submitted an overlength brief. Fortunately for the lawyer, the Seventh Circuit recognized that Bill Gates and his minions were the responsible parties, and declined to sanction the attorney. Desilva v. Dileonardi, 185 F.3d 815 (7th Cir. 1999).”