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Jay's Notes

How to Correctly Count Words in LaTeX? #

Some venues like ACM CHI have started to impose a word limit for paper submissions. We can use the texcount package to count words in LaTeX. Overleaf also uses this package, so this note applies to Overleaf users as well.

To use texcount, run the following command in the terminal. By default, texcount excludes captions of tables and figures and bibliography. -inc parses all included files. -total reports the total word count instead of word count per file.

texcount f01-main.tex -inc -total

Below are some tips to avoid over-counting the words in LaTeX.

Tip 1: Avoid Counting Words in Custom Macros #

By default, textcount counts words in all custom macros. However, some macros do not render text into the PDF, and their content should not be counted. An example is the Description{} macro from the acmart template. Authors are required to use this macro to provide alt text for figures and tables, and the alt text is not shown in the generated PDF. To escape this macro, add the following comment in the main LaTeX file.

%TC:macro \Description [ignore]

Tip 2: Escape Preambles #

Many LaTeX projects include a long preamble file that defines new macros and configures packages. By default, textcount counts words from preambles. To escape preambles, add the following comment in the main LaTeX file.


Tip 3: Escape Non-rendering and Appendix Sections #

Some sections are not rendered in the PDF, such as the acknowledgment section during the submission stage \begin{acks} and the appendix sections \appendix. To escape these sections, just put the %TC:ignore comments surrounding these sections.

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