The text on this page was created with Google Docs, the free word processing program available at:
The computer used was a Google Chromebook.
Microsoft Word is the world's most used word
processing program, but it's never had a reputation for rock solid stability. Many argue
that WordPerfect is better, and they may be right. However, my job is
to help people learn to use the software they have, so I concentrate on the programs most
to Fix Microsoft Word Problems
One of the fundamentals of Word is that all its main settings are in a file named
normal.dot. (In Word 2007 and later this file is called normal.dotm.)
Every time you make a change to Word's settings, such as changing the default font
(Times New Roman) to a different font, the
change is stored in normal.dot so that your preferred alphabet will come up each time
you open Word in the future.
If normal.dot is deleted, the next time you launch Word it will look for the file,
and when it can't be found Word will recreate the file in its original default condition.
Therefore, if Word gets to the point where various kinds of error messages begin to appear
the easiest fix is to delete normal.dot.
Be aware, however, that deleting this file will undo all your special settings
and that they'll have to be reset. For most users this isn't a big deal because they
probably didn't change many settings to begin with. However, anyone who makes lots of
changes in default settings should think about making a backup of normal.dot and
keeping it in a special folder and/or on other media, such as a flash memory drive.
Before you can delete the file, however, you first must find it. And it's not in the same
place on all computers.
It's not uncommon to find multiple copies of normal.dot, so wait till the search has
finished before deleting anything. When all the files have appeared they can be deleted by
left-clicking them and pressing your DELETE key. Alternatively, you can select them and
click the toolbar's red X. Or you can right-click
them and choose DELETE on the popup menu.
- WinXP: Click on Start>Search>All Files & Folders and type normal.dot
into the "Name or Partial Name:" field. (Typing normal.dot
will also find normal.dotm in Word 2007 and later).
- Next click on Advanced Options and be sure that Search
System Folders and Search Subfolders are checked, along
with Search Hidden Files & Folders.
- Also, the "Look In:" field should be set to your main hard drive
(usually Local Disk C:) rather than to an individual folder,
such as "My Documents."
Please note that normal.dot can not be deleted if any Word documents are open.
Word must be closed in order to perform this action.
After all copies of normal.dot have been purged you can reopen Word, which will go
looking for the file. When it isn't found the program will simply recreate it with all of
Word's original settings.
Despite Word's imperfections, I like the program and use it constantly.
I began with Word 3 (for DOS) in 1987
and have used every upgrade through Word 2007. Although Word 2007 (and newer versions) have some features
I like -- on balance -- I prefer Word 2003.
What I like even better is the free online word processor Google Docs, available at
Docs.Google.com. I use this program to do most of my
writing nowadays. Beyond this, I use my Google Chromebook as my main writing computer.