Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. Are footnoted source citations (not explanations or descriptions) included in the word count?

A. Most publishers would say to include source citations in your word count. Publishers use the word count to estimate how much time to allot for editing and how much space will be required in print or PDF. But if you’re an author, make sure to check with your publisher just in case.

If you’re a student, your instructor may have a preference. Otherwise, count everything. In Microsoft Word, the Word Count feature is under the Review tab; make sure to check the box next to “Includes textboxes, footnotes and endnotes” in the Word Count dialog box (if it isn’t checked already).

If you’re using Google Docs, that program ignores words in footnotes, but you can use Docs to download the document in a format that will allow you to count all the words, including MS Word (.docx). If you don’t have Word, you could try LibreOffice Writer, a free program that can open Word docs and that will count footnotes and endnotes; Writer comes in versions for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Or download your document as plain text (.txt) and open it in a program like Notepad++, the free and open-source Windows-only text editor (word count is under View > Summary).