Counting Beans (or words) in PowerPoint Presentations


PLD_tech-corner-Maria Helena Brenner Kelly (PLD member) –

In some lines of work, people count beans. Luckily, we get to count words.

Every now and then we receive translation projects involving PowerPoint presentations, with the client requesting slide translation only. They figure the presenter will “get by” with the speaker notes in English and, of course, the cost of translation is minimized.

Sometimes, the client knows how many words the presentation has, since PowerPoint gives that information. He or she usually has no idea how many words there are considering the slides only, though. And it is up to us to figure that out.

To do this, I found this method. I am sure there are others out there. This one is pretty straightforward, but if you have a better one, please tell the world.

  1. First, check how many words the presentation has in total:


2. Click Save & Send and select Create Handouts and choose Notes next to slides


This action creates an MS Word table with three columns: page #, slide image, and speaker notes. You should delete the first column, which contains the page #, as you don’t want it to impact your count. Check the number of words in the Word document. This is the number of words in the speaker notes.

Subtract this number from the number you got in item 1 above and there you have it: the slide word count, excluding the speaker notes.


Maria Helena was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. She holds a bachelor’s degree in statistics from the University of São Paulo, a graduate degree in business administration from Fundação Getúlio Vargas, and a certificate in translation from New York University. Her work involved both the areas of finance and IT for 25 years, ten of which at IBM in the US. She is a freelance translator and lives in the state of Bahia, in Brazil.


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