Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

MS Word Locks Up, Errors

Two similar and related errors to talk about today:

Microsoft Word has encountered a problem and needs to close.

and

Microsoft Word has generated errors and will be closed by Windows. You will need to restart the program.

These are related in that they both are often caused by a corrupted file – a file that’s used every time you start Word but that many of us don’t even know exists: normal.dot

Normal.dot is a template, used each time that Word starts a new document. If you or your organization have a standard set of fonts, styles, etc. that you want to use for every document, you can use Normal.dot to define these; many companies have a standard file that they put on every system so that their documents have a consistent look.

Unfortunately, such an oft-used file is susceptible to corruption if the program is interrupted or being attacked by a virus. Thankfully, it’s easily replaced. Use Windows’ file search (Start->Search on Windows XP or NT Workstation, I think it was Start->Find on 95/98/Me) to find normal.dot, then rename the it. Then launch Word and close it again – Word should have created a new, empty, normal.dot file. If it did, you can then go back and delete the corrupted one.

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