How to Word Count in PDF


PDF files have become an essential component of our daily lives in the digital age. Whether you are a student, professional, or just someone who frequently deals with documents, knowing how to count the number of words in a PDF can be a valuable skill. This article will guide you through various methods and tools to accurately determine the word count in a PDF file. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to effortlessly obtain word counts from PDF documents.

Table of Contents

  • Understanding the Importance of Word Count in PDFs
  • Manual Word Count in PDFs
  • Online Tools for Word Count in PDFs
  • Automating Word Count with Python
  • Word Count Extensions for PDF Readers
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Understanding the Importance of Word Count in PDFs

Before diving into the various methods of counting words in PDFs, let’s explore why word count is significant. Word count provides essential information about the length and complexity of a document. It helps writers, researchers, and publishers estimate reading time, assess document requirements, and analyze content structure. Whether you’re working on an academic paper, a legal document, or a marketing brochure, knowing the word count is crucial for effective communication and planning.

Manual Word Count in PDFs

Using Adobe Acrobat Reader: Adobe Acrobat Reader, a widely-used PDF reader, offers a built-in word count feature. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader, navigate to the “Tools” menu, select “Word Count,” and a pop-up window will display the word count information.

Copying and Pasting Text: If you don’t have access to Adobe Acrobat Reader or need to count words in specific sections, copying and pasting the text into a word processor can be an effective method. Open the PDF file, select the desired text, right-click, choose “Copy,” open a word processor like Microsoft Word, paste the text, and check the word count.

Utilizing Word Processing Software: Another way to count words in a PDF is to convert the PDF into a compatible format, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Open the PDF file in Word or Google Docs, go to the word count option in the respective software, and view the word count details.

Online Tools for Word Count in PDFs

Facepdf: FacePDF is an online PDF tool that provides a variety of features and functionalities to help users efficiently work with PDF documents. With FacePDF, users can perform various tasks related to PDF files, including conversion, merging, splitting, compressing, editing, securing PDF documents, and word counting.

Smallpdf: Smallpdf is a popular online platform that offers a wide range of PDF-related tools, including word counting. Visit the Smallpdf website, choose the “Word Count” tool, upload your PDF file, and the tool will provide you with the word count information.

Word Counter Tool: The Word Counter Tool is a versatile online tool that supports various file formats, including PDF. Access the Word Counter Tool website, and upload your PDF file, and it will generate a detailed word count analysis, including the number of words, characters, paragraphs, and sentences.

PDF2Go: PDF2Go is an all-in-one PDF editing platform that also includes a word count feature. Visit the PDF2Go website, upload your PDF file, and the tool will calculate the word count and display it on the screen.

Automating Word Count with Python

For those familiar with programming or seeking a more automated approach, Python provides an excellent solution for extracting word count information from PDFs. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Introduction to Python Libraries: Familiarize yourself with Python libraries like PyPDF2, which allow you to interact with PDF files programmatically.

Installing and Using PyPDF2: Install the PyPDF2 library using pip, import it into your Python script, and utilize its functions to extract text and calculate word counts.

Writing a Simple Word Count Script: Write a Python script that opens a PDF file, extracts the text, counts the words, and displays the result. This approach is particularly useful for processing large numbers of PDF files or integrating word count functionality into existing software.

Word Count Extensions for PDF Readers

PDF reader extensions provide a convenient way to obtain word counts directly within the application. Here are a few popular extensions:

Zotero: Zotero, a reference management tool, offers a word count feature within its PDF reader extension. Install Zotero, open a PDF file, and view the word count in the interface.

Mendeley: Mendeley, another widely-used reference manager, includes a word count functionality in its PDF reader extension. Install Mendeley, open a PDF file, and find the word count information in the toolbar.

EndNote: EndNote, a comprehensive reference management software, provides a PDF reader extension with a word count feature. Install EndNote, open a PDF file, and check the word count displayed in the application.


Counting words in PDF files is an essential skill for various professionals and individuals who work with documents regularly. Whether you prefer manual methods, online tools, programming, or using PDF reader extensions, there are numerous options available to help you accurately determine the word count. By following the techniques discussed in this article, you’ll be equipped to efficiently handle word count requirements and optimize your document management process.

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Q1. Is it possible to count words in a password-protected PDF?

Yes, some PDF tools and software can count words in password-protected PDFs. However, you’ll need to provide the correct password to access the content and perform the word count.

Q2. Are there any limitations to online word count tools for PDFs?

Online word count tools may have limitations, such as file size restrictions or a limited number of free uses per day. It’s advisable to check the specific terms and conditions of the tool you are using.

Q3. Can I count words in scanned PDFs?

Scanned PDFs that do not contain selectable text cannot be counted using traditional word count methods. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software can convert scanned documents into editable text, allowing you to count words.

Q4. Is there a difference between the word count methods in Adobe Acrobat Reader and online tools?

The word count results may slightly vary between different tools due to variations in algorithms and counting methodologies. However, the differences are usually minimal and do not significantly affect the accuracy of the word count.

Q5. How can I use the word count information effectively?

Word count information is valuable for estimating reading time, assessing document requirements, and adhering to specific guidelines or restrictions. It helps you manage your content effectively and deliver concise and impactful messages.