Use the LEN function to get a cell’s character count

Ever wonder where the character count command is in Excel? It doesn’t exist, at least not in the same sense as Word’s word count feature–Excel isn’t a word processor. You can’t select a block of text and quickly see how many characters the selection contains. But Excel does have a nifty little function, LEN, that lets you count characters by using a formula.

LEN takes a text string as its only input – though of course you can use a cell reference instead of actual text data. To use LEN, just enter the formula as you would any other. Here’s an example:

Counting characters using the LEN function

You can see the formula in the formula bar (the selected cell is D9). When the text in C9 changes, the LEN function recalculates.

What about word count? That’s a little trickier–but you can read more about counting in the Excel Help article Ways to count values in a worksheet, which includes a section on word count.

 — Steven Thomas