Emacs Tip: Word counting with a regular expression

Here’s a function for Emacs that counts the number of words in a buffer by using a regular expression:

[gist 5942572]

The regular expression matches against one or more word characters. It doesn’t move the current point of the buffer so you don’t have to keep re-positioning the cursor every time you run this function.

The reason I’m posting this is because I was searching for something like this and everyone keeps suggesting to use the “wc” shell command while in Linux, but I’m in Windows! How can I use it? Another thing I found is that people write up functions that loop through words and count them. I’m guilty of doing that, but using the above function is much much easier.

Emacs has most everything that you can think of. The problem is that it’s all hidden away somewhere and you have to take the time to dig around.

Update: The how-many function is defined in replace.el. To find out more about it, press C-h f how-many RET.

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