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Releases Q&A: 2021-11-20 SpeedGrader (Text Entry Word Count)

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Looking to discuss this feature from the 2021-11-20 Release Notes? Post a reply and start a conversation!

  • This topic is for feature discussion only—please share use cases, best practices, etc. regarding this feature
  • Please thread replies as much as possible to keep posts organized


  • Idea enhancement feedback to product managers should be submitted in (though linking to the idea here so others can find it is welcome)
  • Bug reports should be submitted to Canvas Support—bugs will not be triaged in this thread


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4 Replies

Community Explorer

Hi, I've been looking at SpeedGrader - Assignment Text Entry Word Count in Canvas Release Notes (2021-11-20).

I've tested this in our Beta environment and there appears to be a difference in word count between Canvas LMS and Microsoft Word. I tested this a couple of times with body text of varying lengths. In the first test I used body text of approx. 700 words which I ran through MS Word word count and then posted into Canvas as a test submission. The word count was out by about 6-7 words. I ran the test again this morning with a shortened body text of just over 100 words and again ran through MS Word word count and then posted into Canvas as a test submission. The word count this time was out by one word. I thought it may be counting line breaks or spaces so I removed these and ran the test again but received the same result. I've just run a final test using a body text of 273 words (using MS Word word count), I submitted into Canvas and Canvas counted 275 words. Just on these tests the word count appears to be out by one word for every hundred posted. Had anyone else had this issue? Why is the count different between MS Word and Canvas LMS?   



Hi @i_wells 

Great question. In checking with the engineer who built this feature, the goal is to make the SpeedGrader word count match what the word count shown in the Rich Content Editor. We wanted to ensure the word count that students see is the same word count that instructors see so that there aren't discrepancies for assignment submissions.  He can see how counting compared to other applications could definitely be different, as other types of applications count words differently.

Hope that helps!



Community Explorer

I've worked with Ian to test out this feature at our institution too, and think I see what the issue is within Canvas (perhaps both with SpeedGrader, and the counting in a submission for a student).

Using an example with no formatting, just a title on a separate line then a bigger body of text typed below, the discrepancy was that Word and online counters were giving 117 chars, but Canvas was giving 118 chars when composing the submission, and 118 chars subsequently for the submission in SpeedGrader. Looking back over the submission whilst typing it in an additional test, I could get 117 in Canvas only when I completed removed this space between the title and body of the text (which then also agreed with Word/online checkers). Inspecting this with Dev Tools, the only difference in formatting of the page therefore was the paragraph space between the text beforehand, with the tags '<p></p>'.

Assuming both SpeedGrader and in situ counting typing a submission are to be the same as stated by your engineer, this appears to be where this discrepancy will be coming from - in that invisible paragraph tags, automatically added by an RCE, are counting as a word within Canvas. This was the only tags I could see in this small test, but this might not rule out other forms of invisible formatting too perhaps.

To try and amend this issue with word counts, looking at excluding formatting tags I believe to be the best solution here.


Community Participant

Great feature that has been requested for a while!

Is there any plans to support other submission types aswell? We use file submissions for almost all of our assignments, would be great to have the option to check the word count when someone for example has submitted  a docx file.