I've been writing book 2 using the OpenOffice Writer application instead of Microsoft Word. It was a successful experiment for the most part.
But industry standard for manuscripts is Microsoft Word .doc format, and I'm getting very close to sending the ms out to beta readers, so last night I saved the ms as a doc and opened it in Word.
The word count in my manuscript went from about 92,000 in Writer, to 88,000 in Word.
Convinced I'd just lost a couple of scenes worth of wordage due to some hideous bug, I began a comparison. But the page count was identical, and I couldn't find anything missing.
A bit of scrabbling with Google found the answer. Word and Writer have radically different definitions of what constitutes a word. OpenOffice Writer accepts almost any sequence of white space or punctuation delimited characters as a word. Microsoft Word is much more discriminating. On top of that, OpenOffice Writer counts text in headers and footers, and anything in text boxes.
Do I really have 4,000 extraneous character sequences in this ms? I haven't put headers or footers in yet, so the only thing I can think of is em-dashes and en-dashes -- I do tend to use them a bit, just like this -- but even so 4,000 is a bit hard to come at. There are a small number of hyphenated words, which OpenOffice will count as 2, and I use *** to mark scene boundaries.
Which of them is "right"? Fortunately for a novel it doesn't matter, because the publisher only cares about pages. As long as you stick to Times New Roman 12 point with 2.5cm (1 inch) margins, you're going to get 250 words per page. But I have to say Microsoft Word has the correct definition intuitively.
If you're using OpenOffice Writer for an article or essay or school assignment where word count matters, you better be wary.
OpenOffice guys, please fix this!