6 Word Meters and Trackers for the Word Count Obsessed

And what writer isn’t slightly obsessed by their current work-in-progress word count? I mean, apart from well-adjusted ones.

Well, I’m a little obsessed, sometimes. During NaNoWriMo, of course, my mind gets as focused as a diamond-cutting laser on little else….

Without further ado, here are six word count tracking utilities from around the web. The examples are drawn from my current Crime and Violins serial, which has been running almost regularly with 500 words per week.

1. Zokutou Word Meter

Update: Zokutou is no longer working.

2. Writertopia: Picometer and Progress Meter

Two different progress meters from Writertopia, one very slimline:

And one rather verbose and feature-filled:

including a mood for the cartoon character, who looks rather like a bean or potato:

The downsides to the Writertopia meters is, because the images are generated by a server, it’s probably going to fall over the first few days of NaNoWriMo when that comes along—other word count meters have stopped being offered entirely due to the November traffic rush.

Update: Bill from Writertopia comments on meter stability and alludes to new meters later this year!

3. Curious Device: Another Little Progress Meter

A small progress meter that doesn’t depend on images; the CGI script here will generate code for you to use. An example:

5500 / 100000

Hovering your mouse over the bar will probably show the percentage.

This meter has the decided advantage that it won’t fall over during NaNoWriMo load. If you know CSS well enough, you can also play around with it:

5500 / 100000

4. Language is a Virus: NaNoWriMo Word Meter

Here’s another word meter that doesn’t depend on images, and displays the percentage outright as well. Not as svelte, but again, you can play with the CSS if you want to.

5500 / 100000 words. 6% done!

Again, not going to fall over when NaNoWriMo arrives.

5. Gnomebox: Writing Projects Plugin

Rather full-featured, this is a WordPress plugin. (No, this isn’t for you, WordPress.com folks who aren’t allowed to install their own plugins; this is for self-hosted WordPress installations.)

I used a few tags provided by the plugin here, to display the current title, current number of words, and current progress bar. Displaying the percentage doesn’t work for me, and while the word count will always be dynamically updated, no matter when in your blog you show this meter… the problem is, the word count will always be dynamically updated, no matter when in your blog you show this meter. So if you wanted a historical progress of your novel, well, it doesn’t quite work.

Otherwise, it’s nice, and—since it runs on your server—won’t fall over when NaNoWriMo comes.

6. Gnomebox: Daily Word Count Plugin

Another WordPress plugin, this doesn’t provide any word progress meters, but it does go beyond the others: it keeps a historical record of how many words you’ve written each day, and can summarize the counts in various, more flexible ways. The Daily Word Count can be integrated with the previous Writing Projects plugin, so that updating a project updates the word count (you’ll have to go to the options for both plugins to tell them to integrate with each other, though).

Along with just summarizing counts, including only counting words “up to” a particular date, Daily Word Count can also do calendars, such as for a specific month:

I don’t know if Daily Word Count deals well in all cases with year wrap-around (such as when a project crosses from 2007 into 2008). The Daily Word Count also merges word counts between projects with most of its special tags; it’s best mostly for an aggregate count, although you can show the current total for any one title.

Right now I like it best as a daily word tracker. With calendars.

What I’d Pick

Really, despite all the fanciness of the WordPress plugins, I prefer the simple word count meter from Curious Device. It won’t crash during NaNoWriMo, its footprint is delicate and small, and I’m fine with CSS and thus have no problems changing the appearance.

For those who want a reliable word meter, don’t want/can’t have a plugin, and aren’t all that great at CSS, I would recommend using the meter from Language is a Virus.

For those of us who are Hooked On Plugins, there’s only one solution of course (to install ’em BOTH).

Break for 5

So what do you think about these options? And do you have any meter or tracking alternatives out there? Curious and word-count-obsessed minds wish to know.


24 thoughts on “6 Word Meters and Trackers for the Word Count Obsessed

  1. The writertopia progress meters have been around for a couple of NaNoWriMos and it’s never gone done although the other sites have. Maybe we haven’t had as many users. This year, we’ll have a really, really cool widget or two for tracking word count progress. They won’t be image generations and major design elements were done by professional artists. That’s all I’ll say for now :)

  2. Hi Bill!

    Good to know that Writertopia’s meters haven’t gone under in the past as a result of NaNoWriMo rush.

    I look forwards to the new widgets in November! Professional artists? Cool!

  3. I’ve been using the Language as a Virus meter in large part because it was the first one I came across (thank you, Stumble Upon). My blog is hosted on wordpress.com, so there are limits to what I can do, and this meter works well for me. I will be happy to try the new Writertopia meters with NaNoWriMo come November, though, and will try to check out the current offerings before then.

  4. I have been searching for days for something like this! It’s been a great procrastination tool to keep me from writing, but now that I’ve found it, I guess I’ll have to go back to work…


  5. You’re very welcome. I hadn’t found a page like this out there myself, and was surprised—so I made one myself.

  6. If you have a basic account with Storytoolz you can get several neat features, including 3 word counters for your websites. Just keep putting in your wordcount every day and the info will update. You will need to copy and paste the code though so your website needs to have this enabled.

  7. Hi Dianne,

    Storytoolz looks to be pretty cool! Although I fear for them when NaNoWriMo starts up in November.

  8. Here’s a relatively new one: Luminary Writer’s Database (www.writersDB.com) has a word count tracking feature.

    It creates graphs of how your story length has increased over time, or how your daily/weekly/monthly output has fluctuated over time. It doesn’t require you to know (or estimate) what the total length of your story will be. You can generate graphs for one story, or all of your writing combined. And like any good word count widget, it will output HTML code that you can embed in your blog.

  9. I don’t care for the (old) Writertopia graphic meters because the little guy writing looks like a turd. If I wanted Mr. Hanky to represent me, I’d summon him.

    Hiiiidey-ho, folks!

    The Curious Device meter has done the hard part as far as customizing goes. There’s a drop-down options area that will let you change the height, width, color, font, etc. and generates new code for you based on your choices. Best of all, you can save the page to your own computer, so if the site ever goes down for whatever reason, you’ll still be able to generate your meter code. Very nice! I only wish it had a title area where you could put in a novel title or whatever to identify what the meter is for, but this is easily compensated for by simply writing that on your page before you paste the code.

  10. Ethan,

    The save-to-computer-and-generate-meter-code feature for Curious Device is very nice. It’s a very lovely little thing.

    Hmm, November is almost ‘pon us, I see.

  11. Zokutou seems to be gone again, this time perhaps for good. :/ I get a 404 not found when trying to get to the webpage, and going back to the main site gives you… a directory with three folders, and none of them seem to have much- if anything- in them. :| Which is too bad- I liked the fact that with that one, the bar will overextend past the line if you go past your goal.

  12. Jennifer,

    Argh. I just noticed that. Poor little Zokutou.

    These days such images can go on things like Photobucket, Flickr, or, if you’re tech savvy, Amazon S3, so a little generator of HTML like Zokutou should be okay for NaNoWriMo Go! Although perhaps just the visits to the generator alone would push Zokutou over once again.

    I always did like Zokutou’s “bookworm” counter….

  13. We just implemented a word meter on Critique Circle that you guys might want to check out. You can make your own progress bar without logging in but if you make a free account you can combine the progress bar with the CC progress tool to plot your progress as well as update the progress bar automatically.

    Here it is: http://www.critiquecircle.com/progressbuilder.asp

    The result is a single image tag so there will be no problems with javascript or flash support.

  14. I used to love the old zokutu word meter, but the site seems to be broken now :(. In order to have a cool, colorful word meter for NaNo this year and for my website and blog, my husband and I designed one. Please check it out if you’ve been looking for a good word meter!

    Sarra’s Free Word Meter

  15. hi. i was looking for a word counter for nano (on lj). thanks for providing this helpful and organized list. i’ve decided to use the writertopia basic one.
    thanks again!

  16. Thanks for the info on word count meters. I’m looking for one to embed into blogspot but have not found one that seems to work correctly. Any tips on the best one to use for blogspot?

  17. I was so sad when Zokutu’s stopped working. They were my favorite. I’ve never managed to get Writertopia to work on my site. I’ll try Curious Device. Thank you so much!

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