TROUBLESHOOTING Microsoft Word

By: Linda Johnson

Basically, there are five things you need to understand in order to troubleshoot and fix most of your Word problems.

1. Word stores most of its format settings in a global template called normal.dot.

2. Word has a Startup folder, which holds add-ins that start automatically when Word is launched.

3. Toolbars and macro settings are recorded in a Registry key called "Data".

4. Proofing Tools, like the spell checker and grammar checker, are stored in a Registry key called "Proofing Tools".

5. Within a document, paragraph formatting is stored in the paragraph marker at the end of that paragraph.

So, let's talk about Word crashes, out of memory errors, freeze-ups, and blue screens of death. How do we know where the problem is originating and how to fix it?

If Word is not launching for you at all or is crashing or freezing as soon as it comes on the screen, odds are your global template has become corrupt or something is loading automatically in your Word Startup folder that is misconfigured or corrupt. To see if it's a corrupt global template, go to your Start button and click on Run. In the Run box, type "winword.exe /a" (without the quotes, but WITH the space). If Word launches OK, then it probably is your normal.dot file that is bad (since this switch launches Word with a clean, empty template). To get yourself a new, uncorrupt template, simply close Word and search your computer for normal.dot and rename or delete it. When you launch Word again, it will look for normal.dot and if it can't find it, it will create a new one. If this does NOT cause Word to launch correctly, then you need to look inside Word's Startup Folder and see if there are any add-ins in there that could be causing the problem. This folder is usually located at C:Windows Application data Microsoft Word Startup (Or if you run Windows 2000 or have multiple Windows profiles, look in your user profile or all users for your application data folder. Or, if all else fails, search your hard drive for startup and you will find it.) If there are any files in there, move them all to another location and see if Word launches. If it does, then move the files back one at a time until you find the culprit.

If Word launches fine, but crashes or freezes when you perform some function like making text bold or hitting the Print icon, it is possible your registry's data key has become corrupt.

The Data key stores a lot of your toolbar and macro settings. To fix this, you must close Word and edit the registry as follows:

Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice9.0 Word. (Note: the 9.0 refers to Word 2000, if you use Word 97, you will see 8.0 and Word 2002 is 10.0) Inside the Word folder, you will see a folder called "Data". Delete this Data folder and relaunch Word. Just like with the global template, Word will look for this Data folder and recreate it fresh if it can't find it.

(If you do not know how to locate or use the Registry, you can go to my Registry page for instructions, but be warned that editing the Registry is something to be taken very seriously and can render your computer unusable if you mess up. So, pay close attention to the instructions on my page for backing up the Registry before you edit it and know that YOU are liable if you make a mistake. Instructions are here: http://www.personal-computer-tutor.com/registry.htm )

If Word works well until you try to use the spell checker or grammar checker and either of these cause your computer to freeze up or crash, or if the spell checker is grayed out in your Tools menu and you cannot get it to work, the problem could be with the Proofing Tools folders in your Registry. To fix this, go back in to your Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftShared ToolsProofing Tools. In this Proofing Tools folder, you will see four subfolders: Grammar, Hyphenation, Spelling, and Thesaurus. Just delete the folder that is causing problems and relaunch Word and it will again create a new one for you.

Now, lets say Word works fine most of the time but in one particular document, every time you try to print or browse past a certain point, Word locks up or crashes. This is an indicator that there may be corruption within one of the paragraph markers or in the final paragraph marker of the document. To display your paragraph markers, look for the icon on your Standard toolbar that looks like a paragraph marker (or a backwards P) and click on it. This will show the paragraph markers at the end of each paragraph or wherever you hit the Enter key to drop down a line. Highlight the paragraph marker at the end of whatever paragraph you suspect to be corrupt and delete it. This will remove any special paragraph formatting that was applied to that paragraph and remove the corruption with it. If your entire document appears to be corrupt (fonts are all screwy or graphics are displaying strangely or it is giving you sporadic error messages), the best way to try to save the data is to highlight all of the document EXCEPT the final paragraph marker and copy it and paste it into a new blank document. A large percentage of document corruption is stored in the final paragraph marker in a document and sometimes just putting it into a new document and leaving that paragraph marker behind fixes it.

Of course, there are rare occasions where none of these fixes actually fix your problem, so you may have to uninstall and reinstall Word. If you have Word 2000, you can go to the Help menu and run Detect and Repair and this will fix many problems. If you can't get into Word at all, you can go to your Windows Control Panel and double-click on Add/Remove Programs and double-click on Microsoft Office in this list and you will see an option to repair Office. Both of these require the Office CD to complete. However, if this still doesn't cure your problem or if you are using Word 97, which does not have Detect and Repair, you will have to uninstall and reinstall. Notice that I said to uninstall first because problems of this severity are rarely fixed by simply reinstalling the application over top of itself. And, another thing to know about Microsoft Office programs is that uninstalling them does not completely remove them from your system, so if the part of the program that was causing the problem has not been removed by uninstalling, it will still exist after reinstalling. To avoid this, Microsoft offers free downloadable Eraser Utilities to completely remove Office from your computer. I highly recommend you run the proper eraser after you uninstall and before you reinstall in order to guarantee a clean install. There are links to the Eraser utilities for both Office 97 and Office 2000 at my Office page: http://www.personal-computer-tutor.com/office.htm

I hope this helps you with your troubleshooting needs. Though Word is a great program, when it's bad, it's veryPsychology Articles, very bad.

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