For the better part of decades, the granddaddy of modern word processors — Word — has kept real-time tabs on the total number of words on a page and displayed the tally. Apple’s Pages has for years done the same, as has the open source LibreOffice project’s Writer. Given live word counters’ lengthy history and ubiquity, it’s sort of incredible Google never saw fit to imbue Google Docs with one of its own. But finally — no doubt much to the relief of students with minimum word requirements everywhere — that’s changing this week.
In a blog post early Monday afternoon, Google announced it is bringing a persistent and dynamic word counter to Google Docs within G Suite. Assuming you’re one of the lucky eligible users, you’ll find it in Tools > Word count > Display word count. When enabled, it will update continuously in a floating window to the lower left of your doc as you type.
Clicking on the word count box will expose a dropdown of shortcuts to additional information, like the page count and character count, both with and without spaces. To surface the word count of a specific section of text, simply highlight the selection with your cursor.
“We’ve heard that displaying this information is helpful to users working on docs that require minimum or maximum word count,” wrote Google.
Rapid release domains can expect to see the long-overdue feature starting today, ahead of scheduled release domains’ September 23 rollout. Google notes it might take up to 15 days for the word counter to become visible post-deployment.
Google Docs power users will note that third-party workarounds have enabled live counter functionality for a while now, but a native tool is a much-appreciated addition to Google’s increasingly robust productivity platform. The tech giant in March brought Grammar Suggestions, an AI tool that recognizes (and offers to fix) stylistic and syntactical errors, to all G Suite Basic, Business, and Enterprise customers. Alongside it, Google is introducing a revamped interface for reviewing spelling and grammar recommendations that’s designed to make spotting and correcting textual errors “faster” and “easier.”