May 11, 2011, 9:43 AM — Microsoft Word can keep you up all night, and not only because you've got writer's block. You change the font, and Word changes it back. The columns don't line up. The program freezes up, taking your work with it.
Here are five common Word disasters that can ruin a good night's sleep--and what you can do to fix them. The advice below works in both Word 2007 and Word 2010.
1. Word Fails to Load
Talk about a nightmare. You load your word processor, and it either freezes up or closes down. You can't do anything with it.
Chances are that your Normal template has been corrupted. Replacing it with a backup or letting Word recreate it from scratch will probably get things working again.
The first thing that you'll need to do is to open the Template folder. This will probably do the trick: With Word closed, click Start (or Start, Run in XP), and then type %appdata%\microsoft\templates, and press ENTER.
If you've customized Word considerably--changing styles or writing macros (especially writing macros)--a restored backup is your best bet. Windows 7 users may be able to do this even if they haven't been consciously backing up. Right-click the file Normal.dotx (or Normal.dotm) and select Restore previous versions. Try restoring one of the versions that comes up and see if it helps.
Otherwise, if you have another backup, see if you can restore the file from that.
If not, rename the Normal.dotm file. It doesn't matter what you name it. Abnormal will do. When you relaunch Word, it will recreate a new Normal.dotm file containing Microsoft's default settings.
Depending on how corrupt your Normal template is, you may still be able to load it after Word is up. In Word, click the Office orb (Word 2007) or the File ribbon tab (Word 2010), and click New. Select My templates, then Abnormal (or whatever you named the file).
If the new document you just created doesn't crash Word, you can continue to use Abnormal.
2. Word Crashed--and Took My Work With It
Like every other computer program ever written, Word occasionally crashes. So does Windows, which takes Word down with it. And hardware can crash too, taking both Windows and Word down.
Whatever the cause, the reality is unavoidable: Word will occasionally go down without giving you a chance to save your work. But how much will you actually lose and how can you lessen this disaster?
Word saves your documents in two ways. Use them both wisely, and you'll minimize the loss when disaster hits.