' =SUMPRODUCT(LEN(A1:B5)) '.
It works, try it!!
In fact SUM(LEN(A1:B5)) will probably crash with #VALUE! error if used over large ranges, or a lot of characters are in each cell,
particularly in older versions of Excel like Excel2000.
So if you are getting #VALUE! errors when using ' SUM(LEN(A1:B5)) ', switch to SUMPRODUCT.
I prefer this to tediously copying to Word, because with SUMPRODUCT :-
1) It works over large ranges easily, on cell formating of any kind
2) You can deduct parts of a range that may not be relevant (e.g. a cell, row or column that contains personal notes not relevant to the data you want to count)
e.g. =SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B1:L5799)) - LEN(C4) removes the count of characters in Cell C4 from the whole range B1:L5799
=SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B1:L5799)) - SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B462:L462)) removes the count of characters in Row 462 from the whole range B1:L5799
=SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B1:L5799)) - SUMPRODUCT(LEN(D1:D5799)) removes the count of characters in Col. D from the whole range B1:L5799
3) You can add ranges on more than one sheet, so without pasting every sheet to Word, you can get a total no. of characters in the whole Workbook
e.g =SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B3:L799))+SUMPRODUCT(LEN(Sheet2!B4:C7))+SUMPRODUCT(LEN(Sheet3!A1:C7000)) is totaling the count for data on 3 sheets
4) These formulae will update as your worksheet progresses - otherwise you will have to keep pasting to Word every time you alter your data and need a revised count of the characters
5) It keeps your information in one place.
Warning A) - Both ' SUMPRODUCT(LEN(A1:B5)) ' and ' SUM(LEN(A1:B5)) ' will fail if any of the individual cells in the range contain a formula that cannot compute and produce an error value such as #VALUE!, #NULL!, #REF!, #NUM!,#DIV/0! etc. Always best to combine error protection to your formulae in every cell.
You can use Error protection on SUMPRODUCT to flag an error, such as ' =IF(ISERROR(SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B4:C7))),"err",SUMPRODUCT(LEN(B4:C7)))'
which outputs the message "err" if any cell contains an error, but you cannot obtain the character count of the range until the cell(s) causing the errors are corrected, or the range is modified to omit the cell(s) containing the error.