How to Get the Word Count for a PDF Document

By Amanda Gronot

Sometimes you may need to be able to count the words of a PDF document. A PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a type of document format that doesn't depend on the operating system used to create it. So if you send someone else a PDF, you don't have to worry about its being compatible with his word processing software. Because PDF software doesn't read a document the same way a word processor does, it can't do a word count. However, there are a few ways to bypass this dilemma.

Step 1

Copy and paste. Select the text with the "Select Text" button (near the "Search" button), and then copy and paste it into a Word document, which has a word count tool (under "Tools"). Unfortunately, this method can be problematic because the text often becomes garbled, so you will probably have to read through the document and edit it if you want an accurate count.

Step 2

Estimate. Count the words for a third or a fourth of the page and derive an estimate for the whole page from that count. This method requires that the text be relatively uniform.

Step 3

Download a word count program. There are several free programs available on the Web, including Translator's Abacus (see Resources).