Typing with Style

Picture books might be a pithy 250-600 words, but it's not always easy to get an accurate count! For one, maybe you have added the one or two contextual/art/illo. notes (that pesky conversation that keeps coming up at children's book conferences).  

because apparently today is all about the musical references

How do you count the words, but not the notes?

If you use Google Docs, there's a customized add-in that a fellow PB creator... erm... created. Here's his explanation of it on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nathan_C_Books/status/1392490510753935371

I just can't get enough art notes!
but seriously, stay out of my way when I'm tryna count...

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If you use Microsoft Word, here's a way to use the complexity of Paragraph Styles to (hopefully) simplify your life. **WARNING Word for web may now be free, but it doesn't appear to have some of these features. These instructions are for the downloaded & installed version of Microsoft Word for Mac 16.

*click on image for a better view

When you first open Word, it uses the style "Normal." Everything you type has the default formatting. As you apply italics, right-justify, and make other formatting adjustments, it only kind-of remembers. You can ask it to remember for real! Open up the styles pane and prepare to create a new style for each type of paragraph. For the picture book example, this is mostly the main text and the illustration notes (that you're only using sparingly, right?).

Click "new style" and a popup will appear.

The style doesn't apply automatically when you first create it. You'll need to click on the "Apply a style" section to make it stick. Once the style has been applied, each new line uses the same style unless you change it.

Bonus tip: for your title and other single-line applications, you can have it automatically switch to your main text style for the next line.

Now that you have your styles set up, you can check the word count for just that style. If you have art notes in a different style, it will ignore those. Note that they will need to be on their own line. You can't have different paragraph styles intermixed in the same paragraph.

If word count doesn't show up along the bottom edge, you can always go to Tools > Word Count