Keeping a word count spread sheet, an essential tool for writers

One of the key things I use and keep well up to date is a word count spread sheet for each writing project. To me it is as essential as typing “Chapter 1” and the first line of the book.

Spread sheets are wonderful tools and don’t require too much techy ability, just write what you want in the cells and hey presto, job done.

I have several tabs in my spread sheet (a tab is a page, so that you can have many pages in any one file, so that all of the data for one project is in one file.) You can add unlimited tabs to your file and name each tab with what is on there. You can even colour the tab and bold the text to make them stand out.

My first tab is my daily word count. I put the day and date down the left hand side (rows) and word count on the top (columns). I use it to keep the daily and total word counts going. my headings are as follows

Day  Date  Daily words    Total Words

This enables you to see how you are doing on a daily basis and also keep an eye on your total word count.

The next page (or tab) is where I put the chapters down the side (rows) and word count along the top (columns). This gives you an idea of how much the word count changes per chapter so that you don’t have unduly long or short chapters. It helps keep the writing reasonably consistent.

My headings are as follows

Chapter    Title    Words    Total Words

It also helps you keep track of the book by having a chapter title listing, I find this and my Chapter Summaries file essential for editing and proof reading.

When you come to editing and are doing a later draft, you can copy this page onto another tab and then edit it as you go because when you edit, the word counts per chapter will change. This helps you keep track of the data.

If you wish, you can keep another “higher level” page that has date version, word count and so on so that if you are needing to show and agent or publisher how it has changed with time, you have the data to had on one simple page.

I have one master file with the status of all of my books displayed. It helps me keep track and also, again if a publisher or editor wants to know how many books and what their status is, you can tell them straight away.

The use of word count spread sheets and other essential top tips for writers are also given in my new book, The Handbook Of TOP TIPS To Manage Your Writing, by Andrew Marsh available in paper back on amazon and from me. Just drop me a line on or comment on this post.

A great Christmas present for your writing friend or family member.


About purpleandrew

Andrew, recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome is a 54 year old former geologist always had short hair, suited & booted for work. That all changed when the credit crunch hit. Now a complimentary therapist, hospital radio presenter, and writer. Andrew writes crime thrillers, Young Adult, and fantasy books as well as blogging about writing and other stuff that he feels strongly about.
This entry was posted in fantasy faery story, Fendrels' Tale, managing your writing, publishing, The Handbook of TOP TIPS To Manage Your Writing, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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