Gavin Wray

Word and character count tools for web editors

My favourite tools to count words or characters without leaving the browser.

Word Count extension for Chrome

Word Count displays word and character counts. It sits in the navigation bar. Highlight the text you want to count, then select the extension icon. The number of words and characters including spaces appear next to the highlight:

Word count extension for Google Chrome

The extension does not count text in Gmail or Google Docs but I’ve found it works fine with lots of other applications.

Word Count Tool

wordcounttools.com counts words and characters in a piece of text pasted into the browser. It provides more statistics on sentences, paragraphs and readability. The ‘copy and paste’ step can slow you down though.

There’s a Chrome extension and Firefox add-on.

After installing it, highlight your text, right-click and select Word Count Tool. A pop-up window shows words, characters, sentences, paragraphs, average sentence length and average word length:

Word Count Tool pop-up window

Count characters in meta tags

It’s important to limit the number of characters in your page’s <title> meta tag to display sensibly in search results without truncation. The Moz title tag page has guidance on the recommended number of characters. There’s also an emulator to preview how your title looks in Google search results:

Moz title emulator

If you use a self-hosted WordPress site, the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin is useful. It can:

  • show the character count
  • preview your post title and description in search results

This helps you to craft good title and description meta tags within the character limits.

  1. Install the plugin.

  2. In a draft post expand the Screen Options menu.

  3. Ensure the All in One SEO Pack checkbox is selected.

  4. Beneath your draft post, you see a preview snippet of how your post title and description displays in Google search results. The plugin displays a character count (including spaces) to help you stay within the recommended character limit.

    Preview of post title and description with character count

Markdown editors

I’m becoming more of a fan of Markdown. The format is especially useful when writing snippets that need sharing for approval quickly. Keeping the draft in Markdown and exporting the approved version to HTML reduces the time spent reformatting text.

Two browser-based Markdown editors I like are:

dillinger.io displays the word count in the live preview pane while you type. If you cannot see it, select the settings icon then select Word Count.

Word count in the Dillinger Markdown editor

StackEdit provides more information. It counts characters, words and paragraphs. To see the statistics, select the flyout menu at the bottom right of the preview pane, then select the number:

Word count in StackEdit Markdown editor

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