The easiest way to count the number of words in a college essay is to use the built-in word-count feature that most word-processing software possess. Microsoft notes that MS Word has a word-count box in the status bar below the work space. In Open Office, one can click the "Tools" menu and then click "word count."
If a user has issues with his word-processing software's word-count feature, an online word counter is available at Wordcounter.net; just copy and paste the text of an essay into the box. To copy and paste in MS Word, highlight the text with the mouse, then press Ctrl + C to copy and Ctrl + P to paste. In Pages for Mac, the same thing can be accomplished with Command + C and Command + P. It also helps to know that 250 double-spaced words is roughly equivalent to a page depending on font size and margins.
Lecturers often need to count the words in a college essay that has already been printed. This is a little trickier, but it is still possible to do automatically with the help of a scanner. He scans the essay and uses optical-character-recognition software to convert the scanned essay into copyable text; Free-OCR.com offers an online version of this software. It analyzes uploaded text images for free. Once the image is converted to usable text, use word-counting software or a word processor to determine the word count.