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Damaged document files can cause any program to exhibit unusual behavior. Such behavior occurs because the program attempts to make decisions about what to do based on incorrect information in the file.
The best way to protect yourself against document corruption is to keep backup copies of your documents. In the event that you don't have a backup copy of your document, this article provides troubleshooting procedures you can use to identify and recover corrupted Microsoft Word for Windows documents.
Identifying a Damaged DocumentDamaged documents often exhibit behavior that is not part of the program's design (for example, infinite repagination, incorrect document layout and formatting, unreadable characters on the screen, error messages during processing, system hangs or crashes when you load or view the file, or any other unusual behavior that cannot be attributed to the normal operation of the program). This behavior can be caused by factors other than document corruption. To rule out other factors, use the following troubleshooting steps:
Things to Try If the Document Opens But Exhibits Unexpected Behavior
Method 1: Convert the File to Another Format, and then Convert it Back to Word.This is the easiest and most complete document recovery method; always try it first. Save the file in RTF file format; this format preserves the formatting in your Microsoft Word for Windows document. After you save the file in RTF format, re-open the document in Word for Windows, and convert it from RTF.
If this method succeeds, the file corruption is removed during conversion.
If the corruption persists after you save the file in RTF file format, try saving the file in the following file formats:
Other word-processing formatsNOTE: Saving files in Text Only format frequently corrects the document corruption problem; however, all document formatting is lost. This method requires more reformatting; therefore, use it only after other file formats fail to correct the problem. For more information about the loss of VBA code in Word 97 documents that are converted to other file formats, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/158060/ )VBA code lost after converting to another document format
Method 2: Copy Everything Except the Last Paragraph Mark to a New Document.Word for Windows associates a wide variety of formatting with the last paragraph mark, especially section and style formatting. If you copy everything except the last paragraph mark to a new document, the corruption may be left behind in the original document. In the new document, reapply the section or style formatting.
NOTE: You can select everything except the last paragraph mark by pressing CTRL+END and then CTRL+SHIFT+HOME.
Method 3: Copy the Undamaged Portions of the Document to a New Document.Sometimes you can determine the location of file corruption in your document. In such cases, copy everything except the damaged portion to a new file, and then use the following steps to reconstruct your document:
Things to Try If the Document Will Not OpenThere are several techniques you can use to try to open a document that will not open. Which method you use depends on the nature and severity of the damage to your document and the nature of the behavior exhibited. Although many of these methods succeed regularly, not every damaged document can be recovered.
Method 1: Open the Damaged Word Document in Draft Mode.Sometimes you can open a document in draft mode when it will not open in other views. After you open the file, you may be able to recover or repair the file.
To switch to draft mode in Word:
Method 2: Insert the Document as a File in a New Document.The final paragraph mark in a Word document contains information about the document. If the document is damaged, you may be able to retrieve the text of the document if you can omit this final paragraph mark.
To access a document but leave its final paragraph mark behind, use the following steps:
Method 3: Open the File by Linking to it.If the "Insert the Document as a File in a New Document" (Method 2) doesn't work, try this method. This method allows you to access the document without bringing over the final paragraph mark. In addition, when you create a link, part of the header information is not read.
This method allows you to open the file if this part of the header or if the final paragraph mark is in the damaged area of the document.
Use the following steps to link to a "good" file (a file that has not been corrupted) and then change the link to point to the damaged file:
Method 4: Open the File in WordPad or Microsoft WriteWhen you cannot open a damaged document in Word for Windows (usually because of corruption in the file header), you can strip out the file header and open the file as Text Only. When you strip the header information, all formatting is lost. This method strips out the file header information.
Method 5: Strip Out the File Header Information.NOTE: This method works with MS-DOS versions 3.0 to 6.2 only.
Use this method only if all other methods fail. When you cannot open a damaged document in Word for Windows (usually because of corruption in the file header), you can strip out the file header and open the file as Text Only. When you strip the header information, all formatting is lost.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/71999/ )How to disable the Fast Save option in Word for Windows
Method 6: Use the "Recover Text from Any File" Converter.The Recover Text from Any File converter allows you to extract the text from any file. The file does not have to be a Word file. Using the Recover Text from Any File converter has some limitations. Document formatting is lost, along with anything that is not of a text nature. Graphics, fields, drawing objects, and so on, are lost.
However, headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, and field text are retained as simple text. In addition, after the document is recovered using the Recover Text from Any File converter, there will be some binary data that could not be converted, primarily at the top and bottom of the document. This binary data needs to be deleted before you reformat and save your file as a Word document. For more information about how to use the "Recover Text From Any File" converter in Word 97, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/156573/ )How to recover text from any file
Article ID: 87856 - Last Review: November 16, 2006 - Revision: 2.1
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