I am writing a hangman program for class and so far I am able to read in and randomly pick a word from the file. The problem I am facing is counting the number of letters in the chosen word. Once I get that I can work on the rest of the program. The reason for the count is once the game starts, I will choose the word, count the letters and display a number of asterisks or some other character to represent the letters in the word......as the user guesses the letters, i will replace the character with the letter until they win (or lose) code is as follows

//Hangman in C++
//Patrick Nealey

#include <iostream>
#include <fstream>
#include <iomanip>
#include <string>
#include <ctime>

const int MAX_WORDS = 100;

using namespace std;

int loadArray (string words [MAX_WORDS]);
string randomword (int wordCount, string words[MAX_WORDS]);

int main()
	string words[MAX_WORDS];
	int wordCount;
	string word;
	cout <<"Welcome to Hangman...Don't lose your head!"<<endl;

	ifstream infile ("words.txt");
		cerr <<"Could not open input file";
		return -1;

	wordCount = loadArray(words); //call load file and count words;
	randomword (wordCount, words);
	return 0;
int loadArray (string words [MAX_WORDS]) 
	// open the data file - abort the program if file not found
	ifstream infile;
	infile.open ("words.txt");
	if (!infile) 
		cerr << "Cannot open words file.txt\n";
		exit (1);
    // input all the words up to limit total and count
    int i = 0;

    getline (infile, words[i]); //load first line
    while (i < MAX_WORDS && infile)
	  getline (infile, words[i]); //load next line
	if (i == MAX_WORDS && infile >> ws && infile.good()) 
	{ // too many word check
	  cerr << "Error: too many words\n";
	  infile.close ();
	  exit (2);
	else if (!infile.eof() && infile.fail()) 
	{  // bad data check
	  cerr << "Error: bad data in the file\n";
	  infile.close ();
	  exit (3);
	infile.close ();
    return i;  //return count of words
string randomword (int wordCount, string words[MAX_WORDS])
	string word;

	ifstream infile ( "words.txt" );
	int c;
	c = (rand()%wordCount)+1;
	infile >> word;
	while ( --c >= 0 );
	return word;

You're doing a couple of things that are confusing to me.
When you're getting a random word, you're reading your file back in again. You already have the words in the array, you should pick a random one out of there.
You also don't use the return from randomword at all. You should read this into a string and use the .length() method of the string to get the number of letters.

I know, i havent used the return from randomword yet.....trying to figure out how to use it to count the letters.......can i move the rand part into the first function?

You can set it up however you see fit, I was just observing that you were reading them all in and then when you needed one, reading it in from the file again.

Getting the number of characters in a std::string is as simple as myString.length() , getline reads up to the newline character so unless you have multiple words per line then it should give you exactly what you need.

ok, so how do i associate the rand number back to the corresponding word in the string?

You pick out the random number between 0 and wordCount (exclusive) (which is c on line 80 above, but you don't need the +1) and you return the word at that index back to main (so words[c]). In main you then use the length of that word to get the number of letters.