Google Docs (opens in new tab) is finally getting a feature that writers yearn for: a live word count that's easily visible and updates in real time as you type.
Until now, it was only possible to see your running word count by diving into the Tools menu, or hitting either Ctrl+Shift+C or Command+Shift+C for Windows and macOS respectively. It was annoying, and meant breaking your concentration mid-flow.
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Now, Docs is one step closer to being a fully-fledged word processor. The addition of a live word count might seem small, but it's enormously useful.
“We’ve heard that displaying this information is helpful to users working on docs that require minimum or maximum word count,” a Google spokesperson wrote in a 20-word statement of the obvious (opens in new tab).
To activate it, navigate to Tools > Word Count > Display Word Count. Clicking the word count will display additional information, including the page count, the number of words in a highlighted chunk of text, and the character count (with or without spaces).
If you're a G Suite user, you should see the word count pop into the bottom of your Google Docs window very soon. Google has already begun releasing it for users on the Rapid Release schedule, and it should start to appear for everyone else from September 23 onwards.
The company hasn't yet announced when live word counts will be coming to free Google Docs users, but hopefully it won't be long. We're counting down the days.