Word Count

I’ve tried to search the forum, but I can’t find the answer to my (simple) question. I just want to know if the word count is with or without spaces, and how can I show both or choose what I want counted?

Er, are you asking spaces to be counted as words?

Performing word counts in software have been pretty standardised over the last, um, 15 years or so. Basically you loop through the document sequentially, and every time you encounter a space, you increment the word count.

(unless that space is preceded by another space, a new line, certain punctuation characters - well, there are many provisos to get it right, but the basic process remains the same)

Generally, spaces aren’t counted in addition to words because, in fact, the spaces are how the software decides when to increment the word count. I suppose you could have the software increment the count twice to account for the space but…um…why would you want that? Spaces aren’t words, just like blank canvases aren’t really pictures (and when they are, it’s usually in a situation where word count/paint quantity doesn’t really matter).

No, sorry. Word count is ok, what I meant was sign counts… Sorry.

What are sign counts? And why do they matter? Most publishers only need a rounded-up word count. If you’re story or piece is around 2,500 words for example, that’s all they need to know. Not 2,505 or even 2,550.

And in Scrivener you just highlight all the docs in the binder you want a total word count for, select, Edit Scrivenings, and total word count appears in the footer. Couldn’t be easier.

I think the OP means character counts, which I believe are used instead of word count in many non-Anglophone countries.

Spaces are included in the character count, according to my simple-minded test: press space and watch the character count go up by one. Repeat until convinced…

Yes, spaces are counted in the character count - though you can see a character count that doesn’t include spaces too by going to View > Statistics > Text Statistics.

Great, now I know… Editors want char counts with or without spaces… According to their whims, I guess.

This is a question that really intrigues me: is there a universally accepted, assumed average, number of character per word, when an editor asks for X number of words.

Obviously, in terms of X square inches of blocks of text (which Im assuming, is what the editor is trying to determine, when he states the required word count), an average character count of six per word, is 33% larger than an average of 4. Its a pretty inaccurate way to determine anything, as far as I can see. Whereas a character count that includes spaces, will tell him almost to the sq in, how much he has to accommodate.

I suppose what I`m asking, is: why word count, as opposed to character?

Yes, and why would some of my editors want a character count with spaces and some without?

It might be historical…

When I was a young journalist working on magazines, we had manual typewriters. To enable us to write to fit, we typed into fairly narrow margins - say 45 characters - keeping words whole for ease of reading, but trying to balance long lines with short ones. Then, when we sent the paper off to the typesetters, we had a reasonable chance that the number of lines we’d written would match the lines we got back, and the page layout would be simplified. If we got everything right, we could be accurate to within a few lines on a four or five page feature, and the editing required would be minimised (always better to write a little too much - easier to cut than fill…).

The best contributors (the one’s we’d “trained”) worked the same way, so that we could get a good idea of the length of the piece (and edit it easily to fit). Thus a character/line count was what worked best.

Some contributors (and some magazines/editors) would prefer to commission a number of words, knowing that (say) 500 words would make 2 pages with two pix and a headline and intro. But even so, they would often specify the line lengths for the submitted manuscript to make sub-editing easier. Some places even had specially printed paper to use.

In Fleet Street in the early 80s, you got a very old typewriter, sheets of bog paper, told to use 45 character lines, and then had to suffer the jibes from the subs who would render your copy readable.

Things have moved on a little…

Pip pip!

What a great forum, much to learn about the tricks of the trade and great anecdotes as well. Is there anyway I can change the keyboard shortcut for text statistics? I need to check that quite alot - a button would be nice…

…so really, word count, irrespective of what ever size, or use the words are put to, it will only ever be, a crude /rough approximation of the area coverage of text. Im assuming thats all the editor needs.

Thanks for your reply Gareth :slight_smile:

steastu. welcome on board the Good Ship Scrivener :wink:

Take care

The default key command (Shift-Alt-Cmd-S) is a little hefty if you need it to be trigger happy, I agree. There’s no toolbar button available for it, I’m afraid. However, I believe you should be able to override the default keyboard shortcut via System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard Shortcuts. Hit the + button at the base of this pane, and enter the exact Menu command ‘Text Statistics’ into the Menu Title field (after selecting Scrivener as the application). You should be able to add any command that ISN’T already defined in the application.

I suggest Cmd-4, since it’s sort of like ‘Text view’ ‘Corkboard View’ ‘Bottom Toolbar view’ ‘Text Statistics’ along the top of your key row.

I just tested that command, and it works fine.

Thank you, now it´s Cmd-4 here, too…

and, boy, am I glad the forum is back. I´m so glad I found Scrivener, great app.