Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A word count is the number of words that a document contains. For word count purposes, a word is often arbitrarily defined to be five characters. This definition was especially useful prior to automated word counting software which can count the actual words as delimited by whitespace. Given monospace typewriter fonts, word counts could be quickly estimated given the five character per word definition.
Word count utilities are typically included with word processing software. In Microsoft Word and OpenOffice a wordcount can be performed by selecting Word Count from the Tools menu. There are also tools such as wc which can do word counts. Knowing the number of words in a document is vital, since authors may have to write their work within certain minimum or maximum bounds. This is usually the case in academia and legal proceedings. Word counting algorithms can vary between software, for example footnotes may or may not be counted. Therefore, counting the words of a given document using different software may give unequal results.
Word counts are important in defining typing and reading speeds, which are usually given in words per minute.
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