When Word documents break

If a Word document won't open, you've got a host of repair and recovery options

On November 6th, an article appeared in the New York Times that all Word users should review.

The question in the Q and A column was Is it possible to extract the content from a corrupted Microsoft Word 2003 file that won't open? Turns out there are a number of options.

When opening a file with File -> Open, the "Files of Type" drop-down menu has an option to "Recover Text from Any File."

A more ambitious approach is to repair the document. In Word 2002, 2003 and 2007, use File -> Open, navigate to the file and select "Open and Repair" from the drop-down menu on the Open button.

In addition, the article links to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles with additional tips, and, a commercial product.

Let me add, that recovering and repairing may help or hurt. Thus, I suggest attempting each on a copy of the broken document, one created exclusively for this purpose.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

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About the author

    Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

    He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.

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