In publishing, you learn that triple-checking your work in Microsoft Word is just the beginning. Once you have begun putting the document into a document layout program like Adobe InDesign, you never know what changes may occur. As people begin reviewing the manuscript in its final stages, little changes can impact the quality of your document. A newly added caption may have a small typo that everyone misses at the last minute. Here’s how to determine word count and check spelling in Adobe InDesign.

First, Set Preferences

If you have a fresh install of Adobe InDesign, look under Edit > Preferences > Spelling to ensure that you are ready to begin using spell check in Adobe InDesign.

Set your preferences first to ensure that you can quickly check spelling in Adobe InDesign.

  • Select Misspelled Words to find words that do not appear in the dictionary.
  • Repeated Words ensures that duplicate words, such as “be be” are selected.
  • Uncapitalized Words finds words such as “California” that appear as a capitalized noun in the dictionary.
  • Selecting Uncapitalized Sentences will find capitalized words that follow finishing punctuation such as periods, exclamation points, and question marks.

If you are typing changes, such as final revisions, into Adobe InDesign, check the Enable Dynamic Spelling box to underline potential issues as you type.

How to Check Spelling in InDesign

To begin editing your document, select Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling from the menu bar.

Example of spelling error using Adobe InDesign

Example of spelling error using Adobe InDesign

In this example, the word “known” is misspelled as “knwn.” InDesign suggests the “known” option as the first suggestion. Select the word “known” and hit the Change button. It will automatically move to the next option.

In this example, the word “neighbourhood” is noted as a typo. However, that is the correct British way of spelling. In this example, hit the Skip button or the Add button to add to the dictionary. InDesign will then move on to the next word.

Selecting Ignore All will cause InDesign to ignore all occurrences of the highlighted words until InDesign is restarted. This is useful when editing technical documents or documents with uncommon names.

By default, InDesign will look for everything within the document. You have several options to change the range of the spell-check by pulling down the Selection tool beside search.

  • Document will check the entire document and Select All Documents will check all open documents. This can be useful if you have a manuscript open in one window and the cover spread open in another.
  • Story will check all of the text in the selected text frame.
  • To End of Story will check from the current insertion point to the end of the text frame.
  • Selection will check only the selected text. If you inserted the caption and wanted to check just that new caption, you would select it and then run spell check.


Dynamic Spelling

If you enabled dynamic spelling in your preferences, you can correct spelling errors by using the context menu. Like with Microsoft Word, potentially misspelled words are underlined.

Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the underlined word to open the dynamic spelling window.

We still haven’t fixed that word. However, right-click on it using dynamic spelling to fix the error.

In this example, we still have not fixed the “knwn” word error. If we right-click on the error, it brings up a list of potential corrections. Select “known” at the top of the list to replace the word. You can also add the word to your User Dictionary or just Ignore All of that particular spelling.

This might occur with the word “ neighbourhood.” In this instance, you might want it since this book is using the British spelling. You might not want it in your next book, however. By hitting Ignore All, you can ensure that it is left in this document but not added to your user dictionary. That brings us to another step, how to edit said dictionary or remove words.

Removing or Editing Words in Dictionaries

Let’s say that you accidentally added the word “neighbourhood” to your dictionary. Luckily, there’s an easy way to go in and remove the word.

Step 1. Choose Edit > Spelling > User Dictionary from the menu bar.

Step 2. In the Language menu, choose a language.

Step 3. In the Target menu, choose the dictionary from which you wish to remove the word. By default, InDesign adds it to the User Dictionary. You can change that, but in this case, let’s stick with that option.

Step 4. In the Dictionary List menu, select one of the following:

  • Choose Added Words to modify the list of additions.
  • Choose Removed Words to adjust the list of words that are flagged as misspelled.
  • Select Ignored Words to modify the list of words that are being ignored during the current InDesign session. This list includes all of the words for which you’ve chosen Ignore All.

Step 5. Edit the word in your list or select the word and click Remove.

Step 6. Select Done.


How to Determine Word Count

After making changes in your document, you may be curious about the word count. Rather than export your InDesign manuscript out into Microsoft Word or another program, here are some quick tips to access our count.

Open the Control Panel. On the menu bar, go to Window > Info to open the Info Panel or F8 on your keyboard.

Select the Info tool to bring up the tab to show the document word count.

Select the Info tool to bring up the tab to show the document word count.


  The Info Panel will give you the Character, Word, Lines, and Paragraphs count.

Selecting text will give you the number of characters, words, lines, and paragraphs.

Area of Text. Let’s say that you have a brochure with a limited number of words. In this example, we want to find out how many words are in this long paragraph. Our stylebook says to limit the number of lines and words per character, so you want to see the details. To count words in a selected area of text, highlight the text by either double-clicking inside of the paragraph or highlighting manually by placing your cursor at the start and dragging it down to the end of the paragraph.

In this example, our paragraph has 398 characters, 79 words, 7 lines, and is just 1 paragraph.

Whole Story within Text Frame. If your story stretches across multiple text frames and pages, click your cursor into one of the text frames to see the number of words in the Panel. You shouldn’t have to select all the text, but rather just click within the text frame.


Left click within a text frame to get the number of characters, words, lines, and paragraphs throughout the entire thread.

Note: If you have a long text story that stretches across multiple pages with no breaks, InDesign may have a hard time finding the word count. For example, this story has the entire text of Pride and Prejudice in one text frame going across 435 pages in 218 spreads. InDesign just gave up. InDesign also won’t provide a word count for an entire document. In this case, taking it back into Word may be your best bet. Or, just try best practice by breaking up your text frames by chapter. You can unthread text frames without having to rebuild the entire document.

You can also download and install a script called count-text. Count-text counts the words in your stories. Visit for this script. Place it in your C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe InDesign CC 2018\Scripts\Scripts Panel folder.

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