Award Character Count

I am assisting a student with the Woodie Flowers Award. At the beginning of the season, the criteria called for 600 words maximum. Now it calls for 3000 characters. Does the character count include spaces and punctuation? The essay now is below 600 words, but with spaces it exceeds 3000 characters. Without spaces, it is below 3000 characters.

The Deans List Award states 4000 characters - again the same question - with or without spaces and punctuation.

Thanks for your help!

Yes, they all count. Spaces, punctuation, even return character.

We would type in Word and keep track of the character count. Then save as text, open in Notebook, copy and paste into the FIRST web site.