Google docs word count wizardry

The Preamble

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and I decided to use Google Docs because I can log in from home or work (during my lunch break) or on my phone (while I’m waiting for the kids to get off the school bus.) I’m basically writing the story in chronological order, so each day I add the date and then pick the story up where I left off. But because I’m a bit of a pantser, there are things I find out about the story as I go along which require changes to what I’ve already written.

Now, my general rule for getting through a first draft is to keep moving forward and don’t look back, but sometimes there are little things that I can change quickly or move around, and to do this I switch from Editing mode to Suggesting mode so I can easily keep track of what I change. (Here’s an earlier post where I explain how to switch to suggesting mode in Google Docs — and look! I figured out how to do the first line indent.)

The Problem

Unfortunately, suggestions are ignored when calculating word count.

A Google Doc, in Suggesting mode, with the Tools menu open and Word Count highlighted.

It took a lot of googling (Why are some things so hard to find? Why?) but I eventually stumbled upon a solution.

The Wizardry

Instead of selecting Word Count from the Tools menu directly, choose Review Suggested Edits instead.

A Google Doc, with the Tools menu open and Review Suggested Edits highlighted.

This pops up a little toolbox on the right hand side. Be very, very careful not to click the Accept All or Reject All buttons. Instead change the Show Suggested Edits dropdown to Preview “Accept All”.

A Google Doc, with the Review Suggested Edits toolbox open.

This will show you a version of your document as if all the suggestions had been accepted. Then you can go to Tools -> Word Count and get the right result.

Once you’re done, click the X on the Review Suggested Edits toolbox to the normal version of your doc.

Mihi mai ra. 😉

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