LaTeX Word Count

I’m working on my graduate thesis in the LaTeX document mark-up format, and trying to apply Anthony Burgess’ Martini Method. Basically, set a certain desired word count and let yourself relax after you’ve achieved that word count every day. I started off pretty well with this method, but the next day my wife Amanda went into labor, and my productivity has basically been a train wreck ever since.

I’m getting back on the horse.

Anyway, it’s a little tricky to apply the Martini Method when using LaTeX — as a markup language a bit like HTML, it’s full of special words, symbols, characters and whatnot that are not actually part of what you’re writing. A simple Emacs word count will not do the trick. Much as I’d love to count all of those extra words, the point here is to produce a certain volume of output and that would miss the point. Plus, it’s dishonest. There exists a PERL script that will parse LaTeX and count the non-special words. However, someone’s gone even a step further and made a nice web interface for it, with color coding and everything. That interface is here, apparently hosted by one Einar Andreas Rødland in Norway.

So far, it’s working quite well for me. Unfortunately, it just informed me that I’m not quite to my desired word count yet. More writing!

3 thoughts on “LaTeX Word Count

  1. Brock Tice Post author

    I’m currently trying for 500 words per day, with figures counting for 250 (per Heart Rhythm Society abstract rules). I’m not sure whether that number is going to be the ‘magic number’. It still needs some calibration.

    For Anthony Burgess it was 1000 words, but fiction is a bit different from scientific writing.

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