I know I can use wc for counting characters, words and lines of files at the command line.

Is there any way I can can count the number of words while in vim?


You can count words and lines inside vi using vi's own counter:

Press g and then CTRL-g. Then the bottom line look for example like this:

Col 1 of 11; Line 1 of 106; Word 1 of 344; Byte 1 of 2644

Or use vi's method to call shell commands:

:w !wc -w

This calls the save (:w) command first and then wc -w and shows the output. Example:

:w !wc -w

Press ENTER or type command to continue

Press Enter to go back to vi.

  • It is actually incorrect description of :w !<cmd> construct. It writes the current buffer to a pipe connected to the command. No separate write of the current buffer to a file is promised. Nevertheless, it does what question asked for. – mcepl Nov 17 '17 at 9:45

You can also try for :!wc % in Vim, though it counts the size of the file on-disk, not what is in Vim's buffer. This may or may not be what you wanted.

  • This counts what’s on disk (if anything), not what’s in the buffer — so if you have changed the contents of the buffer since the last save, or not saved at all, you’ll get the wrong count (or even an error if you’re creating a file). – Stephen Kitt Mar 20 at 8:57
  • Contra Stephen, this is a correct solution to "How can I count the number of words in a file whilst editing the file in vim", while the accepted answer strictly-speaking isn't (although it's ambiguous what was meant or whether it matters). – Michael Homer Mar 20 at 9:02
  • Funny that it's similar (minus the -w flag to restrict the output to words only) to a delete answer from 2014 by D_Bye (who apparently self-deleted it). – Jeff Schaller Mar 20 at 10:20

Plugins such as vim-airline can provide word counts for a file (and selections) as part of a status bar.

  • This answer isn't link-only. I didn't include the specifics of any particular plugin, because (as you say) particular plugins might become outdated. – Patrick Sanan Jan 9 at 19:04
  • I stand corrected. However I would say in the future you should try to include relevant steps to implement the solution you are presenting. Thank you! – kemotep Jan 9 at 19:43

For those who want to count number of words in a given piece of text (not whole file), use \S\+ regexp.

  1. Select the text of interest (visual mode)
  2. :s/\S\+//gn

Result. Vim will show you something like this: 10 matches on 1 line

When you hit : in visual mode, vim prepends your command with '<,'> which means to apply the command against the selected text.

\S\+ captures words, that is groups of characters separated by whitespace.

protected by Archemar Mar 20 at 8:44

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