Word Count / Table cell bug in Word

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Select the wrong part of a MS Word table and the word count is wrong

Benjamin B. writes with an interesting bug in Word 2013 that’s apparently been in Word for a few versions without acknowledgement from Microsoft, let alone a fix.

It involves tables and the word count feature. The same bug is in Word 2007 and Word 2010.

When you select parts of a document the word count on the status line should show the number of words selected. And so it does … most of the time.

Benjamin discovered that when selecting parts of a table the word counts can go haywire.

Selecting the entire table gives a correct word count, as in this example.

Word count in table image from Word Count / Table cell bug in Word at Office-Watch.com

If you select the text inside a cell, Word will show the correct word count.

But select the CELL and the word count reverts to the default of showing the full document count.

Word count in table image from Word Count / Table cell bug in Word at Office-Watch.com

The bug gets even more screwy. Select the ROW and the word count is correct.

Word count in table image from Word Count / Table cell bug in Word at Office-Watch.com

Select the COLUMN and the word count is wrong.

Word count in table image from Word Count / Table cell bug in Word at Office-Watch.com

This might seem like an obscure problem but many people rely on word counts for billing and other purposes. Benjamin says “it’s critical for people like me who bill clients by the word”. Often tables are used for formatting and can extend across many pages.

Aside from any particular need, paying customers are entitled to expect that the word count feature works, as advertised.

This is a classic Microsoft ‘secret bug’ that the company deliberately keeps secret from paying customers. You won’t find a mention of this in the Knowledge Base even though the company has known about the bug for years.

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