Useful steps for troubleshooting problem documents. Not for general Word
crashes, as the title suggests...
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--==>> WOODY's OFFICE TIPS - WORD <<==--
(Woody's quick tips for Microsoft Word)
part of WOW - Woody's OFFICE Watch
19 March 2001 Vol 1 No 5
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1. FIVE EASY STEPS WHEN WORD HANGS
I sent a Word 2000 document to a friend of mine last week,
so he could print it. The document was really trivial - one
page, two fonts, and a small, simple inserted (embedded)
I got a message back from him a few hours later. "HELP!" he
said, "Whenever I try to open your document in Word 97, it
hangs. I waited forever and nothing happened. I can't even
use Start to shut down because the mouse won't move.
Ctrl+Alt+Del doesn't even work - I have to turn the machine
off and turn it back on again."
Oy. Why computer jocks get gray. Word 97 and 2000 have
almost identical file formats - the only exceptions I know
about deal with minor features that were added to Word 2000
- and you should be able to open documents created with one
version by using the other version. That's the theory.
I have no idea what the problem was, although I've
encountered variations of this problem dozens - if not
hundreds - of times. I bet you have, too.
So here's what I did. If you hit a similar problem, I
suggest you try resolving it in this order, too:
1. I zipped and re-sent the file. Zipping is a very
convenient way to make sure that the file arrived
intact. If the person on the other end can unzip the
file, it means that all the bits made it over the ether.
That didn't work: the file unzipped just fine, but Word
97 still hung.
2. I saved the file in Rich Text Format (File | Save As |
Save As Type: Rich Text Format (*.rtf) ) and sent it to
him. Frequently saving a Word doc in RTF will dislodge
whatever creepy-crawly problems may be lurking in the
document. Simply use Word to open the RTF file, and most
of the time everything comes through fine, plus or minus
some fancy formatting and Word-specific features.
Unfortunately, in this case, it didn't work.
3. I removed the graphic from the file (selected it and
deleted it), and sent him the Word .doc and GIF file
independently, along with instructions for using Word to
put the GIF back in the document. ("To put the graphic
in the document, open the document, click Insert,
Picture, From File. Navigate to the .gif file and pick
Insert. Then immediately right-click on the picture, and
choose Format Picture. On the Layout tab pick In Front
of Text. Then click Advanced, and clear the box marked
"Move object with text". You'll then be able to click
and drag the picture.") He wrote back and said he had no
problem opening the GIF file, but Word 97 still hung
when he tried to open the doc.
4. So I removed the graphic again, and this time I saved
the Word document (without the inserted GIF file) as
RTF. Sent the two files - RTF and GIF - to him,
independently. Bingo. That worked. Word opened the RTF
file, and there was no problem re-inserting the GIF.
5. If that had failed, I had one more trick in my hip
pocket - the Word file viewer. It's a pain, but I
would've had him log on to the Microsoft Web site,
download and install the Word file viewer. That's almost
guaranteed to work. Almost. Details are at
And who said Office was easy?
WOW is the first of Woody's series of free email
newsletters. We have others for Office beginners, Access,
Project, Windows and Palm devices. See
WOODY's OFFICE WATCH - Copyright 2001 ISSN 1328-1674
Pinecliffe International and Peter Deegan. All rights