Troubleshooting Catastrophic MS Word Failures

Several comments were split into tiny bits and populated all following comments.

Word malfunctions in myriad ways, but sometimes it gets borked in SPECTACULAR ways. I have seen it completely obliterate any copy of the file, as though it borrowed the infinity gauntlet. It has spread a comment into tiny bits over the subsequent comments (see image). It has caught the vapours and decided it simply cannot show tracked changes anymore or run spellcheck…

When Word seems completely borked, try these fixes in order, rebooting your computer each time:

book cover of eiw365
For more tips on rescuing files, see Section 42 in the book
  • Shut down Word and turn the computer off completely, then reboot
  • Maggie the file — with TC off, remove section breaks* and copy all but the final character into a fresh file (also with TC turned off)
  • Run software updates
  • “Rinse” the file through a plain text editor such as TextEdit or Google Docs — that is, paste the text into the other program, then copy it from there into a fresh Word file. Note this will erase all styles, comments and tracked changes in the document
  • Delete text expanding plug-ins — uncertain, but can do the trick
  • Delete the Normal template — note this will erase ALL of your customizations and you may not want to restore a backup lest it also contain the problem
  • Call MS support — they may install a different download (even if it has the same version number); all cautions above apply, plus the one below

*Thanks to Dick Margulis for these additional caveats. He also wisely suggests: “Before calling MS support and being stuck on hold for hours or days, either do a search [online] for the specific problem or reach out to your techy friends on social media. Maybe you’ll get a quicker solution. But if you do this, ask the question properly: Say what version you’re working in. Say what your operating system is (what version). Say something about your computer (age, processor, storage, free space). And above all, don’t ask why something happened. Ask what to do to fix it. That’s generally a much easier question to answer.”

Button image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

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