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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste Apps
Working on a long, complex Word document recently, with several layers of tracked changes, I was preparing the document for final distribution. While trying to clear all the tracked changes, I noticed that after accepting all changes, there still remained one that displayed each time I opened the document. Whenever I accepted it, saved the document and closed it, it would return to haunt me the next time I opened the document. The change was to the document's table of contents, located on page three, but the change "bubble" showed up at the very top of page one. Clearly something was amiss with the document, something that tends to happen with Word documents that have been through the blender a few times.

I tried a number of techniques to resolve the problem, such as accepting the change in each possible method (by clicking the bubble, from the reviewing pane, and from the reviewing toolbar), by saving the document as a new file, and by deleting the change and re-doing the change. Finally, in my desperation, I asked robg via iChat, and (after suggesting the same operations I had tried), he suggested that I copy the entire text of the document and paste it into a new file.

This worked! Not only did it remove the change, but the copy retained my document's footer (which I was worried would not be copied). I had never had this problem before, but should it happen again, I can save a lot of time.

[robg adds: This 'copy all and paste to a new doc' trick is one I've used with Word a lot in the past, and its utility extends beyond tracked changes issues. I've had other situations where I wasn't able to modify a style, or a table just wouldn't format properly. Pretty much any time I have a Word issue that seems immune to the normal solutions, I try a fresh start via copy and paste, and this nearly always seems to do the trick.]
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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste | 13 comments | Create New Account
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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste
Authored by: gabester on Dec 31, '08 08:15:19AM

I've used this technique in the past as well to resurrect documents with issues long the following lines:

Formatting can't be changed.
Layout can't be changed.
Additional changes to the document can't be saved.

In most cases you can make the changes but they won't be saved.
Since it never occurred to me that this could be a hint, I'll add what seems to be obvious, is that sometimes this solution works for a part of larger document. I.e. copy and paste the offending page(s) to a new document; modify as needed; delete the existing page(s) in the original; then insert the fixed pages. This is especially useful in PowerPoint.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: SeanAhern on Dec 31, '08 08:44:51AM

Why does such a horrible application as Word persist as the dominant word processing application in our time? Of the big three (Powerpoint, Word, Excel), Word is by far the worst of the group. Why does it continue to dominate when there are many more capable contenders out there (that can also read/write Word docs)?

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: frgough on Dec 31, '08 09:28:02AM

Because, unfortunately, it sucks less than what else is out there. Open Office is even worse to work with than Word.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: S on Dec 31, '08 09:36:22AM

It has been a long time since I've had to use Word. Pages works just fine for me.

I understand that Pages still lacks features in certain areas. But I can only see high-end users using Word at the moment, or people who have no choice but to use doc format. Pages is pretty good at importing/exporting to Office. It is a shame the same cannot be said of Keynote.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: frgough on Jan 01, '09 09:16:40AM

I love Pages and use it for all my personal needs.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: asmeurer on Dec 31, '08 09:49:14AM

I only use it for its Grammar checker anymore. I only do plain text, as the more formatting I try to do, the more it screws up for me. Maybe someday Apple will beef up its rudimentary grammar checker so I can ditch Word forever. Even then, I will need to find a program that does decent formatting, unless I am going to type everything in LaTeX.

By the way, if you've ever had the misfortune of using Word 2008 for Windows, you will realize that Word for Mac isn't that bad. For some reason, Microsoft decided to completely eliminate the menu bar in that program. I spent five minutes in it just trying to find the "Show header" option in the toolbar, which is what replaced the menu system.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: bauldrywc on Dec 31, '08 10:13:34AM

After doing my first book in MS Word in '88, I switched to LaTeX—and have never gone back. TeXShop (free!) in OS X as a front end to TeXLive is, by far, the best document processor—I even use it for exams, quizzes, and memos.

Every time I've been forced to used Word since then (usually by administrators who don't comprehend that text based docs don't have to be in Word file formats!), it's been incredibly painful.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: frgough on Jan 01, '09 09:18:34AM

Whatever rocks your boat, I guess. The idea of having to hand code formatting as I'm writing my document seems totally asinine to me. Talk about distracting you from putting down content.

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Why does Word persist?
Authored by: simonm on Jan 03, '09 02:35:50PM

I disagree, trying to maintain consistent formatting in Word is the BIGGEST hinderence to productivity I've ever encountered in an application. The whole styles system is a joke. Even turning off all the auto-format options can't save you. The only way I can manage to write large documents/reports now (as a previous commentator suggested) using text only until the very end and then applying minimul necessary formatting manually.

Yes it would be ideal not to have to type codes. Perhaps there are other LaTex compatible processors I'm not aware of.

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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste
Authored by: Dr. T on Dec 31, '08 09:59:09AM

A few warnings about the Copy & Paste 'repair' method:

1. After opening the blank document, ensure that the layout (margins, headers, footers, and gutter) are identical to the document you are trying to fix. Word will only need to paginate the new document once if you do this.

2. Complicated documents with multiple sections and different headers and footers may not copy well in one pass. Sometimes copying section by section works better, especially if the sections have different layouts.

3. Double-check the table of contents, the index, and within-document hyperlinks after the Copy & Paste process.

After lots of painful experience with long, complex documents (including a college science textbook), I found that it was best to work in plain text format until the writing and editing were done. Then I opened the text in Word and applied a carefully designed set of styles (chapter name, main head, head, subhead, table head, table text, footnote, etc.). I then performed copy editing. Lastly, I created the TOC and the index.

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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste
Authored by: tjj on Jan 01, '09 03:26:24PM

This sounds very LaTeX'ish. :-)

One thing that repeatedly annoys me, is that I sometimes ave to use templates. that the creator, for some reason, thought should make use of tables as text-holders in headers and footers.

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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste
Authored by: croldham on Jan 02, '09 10:52:22AM

Another option that may work for some people is to "Save As" the file as RTF, then reload it into a fresh copy of Word. This worked well for us in earlier versions of Word for the Mac.

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Fix various Word document issues via copy-and-paste
Authored by: pdeli on Jan 02, '09 08:36:58PM

Hello all,

Another possibility...

Once I was able to salvage a serveral megabytes Word generated manual just by:
1. creating a backup
2. opening the original or the copy with OpenOffice
3. saving under a third name
4. re-opening it through MS Word

Worked like a charm and saved months worth of work to a colleague, so much so that I got invited for dinner :)

Cheers all and happy 2009

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