How to Count Words in a PDF

Thu. 18 Jan. 20242173
Discover how to accurately count words in PDFs using reliable software, conversion to editable formats, and verifying OCR accuracy for precision.
How to Count Words in a PDF

Particularly in PDF documents, understanding the specific details, such as word and character count, is essential.

The process of counting words in Portable Document Format (PDF)  files can vary, depending on the PDF software used, be it PDF Reader Pro, Adobe Acrobat, Foxit Reader, or other PDF viewers.


Tools and Methods for Word Count

Tools and methods for word count in PDFs vary, ranging from built-in features in PDF readers to standalone software and online services. Here's a summary of different tools and methods you can use:

1. Built-in PDF Reader Features


Image Source: PDF Reader Pro

  • Adobe Acrobat: Includes a word count option under the document properties or the preflight tool for detailed document analysis.


Image Source: Adobe Acrobat

2. Online Tools

  • Online PDF Word Count Tools: Websites for pdf word counters offer services where you upload a PDF, and it returns the word count. These are useful for occasional checks without needing to install the software.


  • Google Docs: You can convert a PDF to a Google Docs document, which then allows you to use the word count feature of Google Docs. This method might have formatting inconsistencies for complex PDFs.


3. Office Software

  • Microsoft Word: Users can leverage Word's built-in word count tool by converting a PDF to a Word document. This method may introduce formatting errors that could affect the count for more complex PDFs.


  • LibreOffice/OpenOffice: Like Microsoft Word, these free office suites can open PDFs directly or convert them, allowing access to word count functionalities.


These are the different tools that you can try.

Make Word Counting Easier

Issues may arise when needing to count words in your PDF, here are some ways to help:

  • Convert PDF to Word: PDF Reader Pro usually offers robust PDF conversion tools, allowing users to convert PDF documents into Word documents (.docx).


Once converted, the document can be opened in any word processing software with a word count feature, such as Microsoft Word, where you can easily see the total number of words.


  • Text Extraction: PDF Reader Pro may have a feature that allows for text extraction from a PDF. By extracting the text and pasting it into a text editor or word processor that supports word counting, you can obtain the word count you need.


  • Annotations and Comments: If you're reviewing a document and only need to count the words in your annotations or comments, PDF Reader Pro can be useful. While this doesn't count all words in the document, it helps edit and review purposes.


Using PDF Reader Pro has made word counting in documents easier for me despite its lack of a native word count feature.

The software’s efficient conversion tool allows me to quickly transform PDFs into Word documents, where I can easily check word counts.

This feature saves time and maintains the document's formatting, boosting my workflow significantly. PDF Reader Pro has become a key tool for managing my documents more efficiently.


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Addressing Inaccuracies and Variations

To address inaccuracies and variations in documents effectively:

  1. Review Regularly: Periodically audit documents to spot inaccuracies.
  2. Standardize Templates: Use templates to ensure consistency.
  3. Version Control: Track changes and document versions to monitor variations.
  4. Training: Educate your team on the importance of accuracy and consistency.
  5. Use Technology: Apply tools for spelling, grammar, and plagiarism checks.
  6. Peer Review: Have documents reviewed by colleagues before finalizing.
  7. Feedback Mechanism: Allow stakeholders to easily report inaccuracies.
  8. Update Often: Regularly refresh documents to maintain accuracy.
  9. Audit Trails: Keep records of changes to trace inaccuracies.
  10. Legal Review: Have critical documents checked by experts for compliance.


These steps help maintain document integrity and reliability.


Word Count in PDF: Best Practices

For effective and accurate word counts in PDF documents, focusing on the top 5 best practices can streamline the process and ensure reliability:

  • Use Reliable Software: Opt for PDF readers or converters known for their accuracy and reliability in word counting to avoid discrepancies.
  • Convert to Editable Formats: To obtain an accurate count, convert PDFs to editable formats, such as Word, using conversion tools and then using the word processor's count feature.
  • Verify OCR Accuracy: For scanned documents, utilize Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert images of text to editable text, ensuring the OCR accuracy as mistakes can affect the word count.
  • Manual Checks for Important Documents: For documents where precision is crucial, perform manual checks or use multiple tools for verification to ensure the accuracy of the word count.
  • Keep Software Updated: Maintain the latest versions of your PDF and word counting tools to benefit from enhanced accuracy and newer features that may assist in a more accurate word count.


Adhering to these practices enhances the precision and efficiency of word counting in PDFs, ensuring that document management tasks are performed with the highest accuracy.

Word Count in PDF: FAQ

Can I get an accurate word count directly from a scanned PDF document?

Not directly. Scanned PDFs are essentially images of text and require OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to convert the image into editable text for word counting.

Do all PDF readers provide a word count feature?

No, not all PDF readers have a built-in word count feature. Adobe Acrobat is one of the few that does. For others, you may need to use third-party tools or software.

How can I count words in a PDF with multiple languages?

Use an OCR tool or PDF reader that supports multiple languages. Ensure the tool is set to recognize each language in your document to get an accurate count.

Can I count words in a PDF without downloading software?

Yes. There are online tools where you can upload your PDF file, and the tool will provide you with a word count. This is a good option if you prefer not to download software.

Is word count in a PDF reliable for legal or academic documents?

It can be, but always double-check with a manual count or use a professional-grade PDF tool for critical documents. Accuracy is paramount in legal and academic contexts.

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