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How to troubleshoot problems that occur

when you start or use Word

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Support for Office 2003 has ended


Microsoft ended support for Office 2003 on April 8, 2014. This change has affected your
software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.
Summary

This article describes how to troubleshoot problems that may occur when you start or use
Microsoft Word. Use the following methods in the order in which they are presented. If you try
one of these methods and it does not help, go to the next method.
Resolution

Verify or install the latest updates


You might have to set Windows Update to automatically download and install recommended
updates. Installing any important, recommended, and optional updates can frequently correct
problems by replacing out-of-date files and fixing vulnerabilities. To install the latest Microsoft
Office updates, see Update Office and your computer with Microsoft Update.
For list of the latest Office updates, see Office Updates. If your issue is not resolved after you
install the latest Windows and Office updates, go to method 2.
It's a good idea to make sure that your computer has the latest updates installed for Windows.
Updates often fix software problems. Before you use any of the following methods, try first to
install updates. After you install the updates, restart your computer, and then start Word.

Troubleshoot problems that occur when you start Word


Important Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify
the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration in case
problems occur.
Method 1: Insert your document into another file

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, follow these steps:
1. On the File menu, click New and then click Blank Document.
2. On the Insert tab, click Object in the Text group, and then click Text from File.
3. Select the file that you want to open and insert, and then click Insert.
Method 2: Start Word by using the /a switch
The /a switch is a troubleshooting tool that is used to determine where a problem may exist in
Word. The /a switch prevents add-ins and global templates from being loaded automatically.
The /a switch also locks the settings files to prevent it from being read or modified. To start Word
by using the /a switch, follow these steps:
1. Type Run in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in the
Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter.
2. In the Run dialog box, type winword /a, and then press Enter.
For more information about the /a switch, go to the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge
Base:
826857 Description of the "/a" startup switch in Word
If the problem does not occur when you start Word by using the /a switch, try the next method to
determine the source of the problem.
Method 3: Delete the Word Data registry subkey
Most of the frequently used options in Word are stored in the Word Data registry subkey. A
common troubleshooting step is to delete the Word Data registry subkey. When you restart Word,
the program rebuilds the Word Data registry key by using the default settings.
NoteWhen you delete the Word Data registry subkey, Word resets several options to their default
settings. For example, Word resets the "most recently used file" list on the File menu. Also, Word
resets many settings that you customize in the Options dialog box.
Important Follow the steps in this section carefully. Serious problems might occur if you modify
the registry incorrectly. Before you modify it, back up the registry for restoration in case
problems occur.

To delete the Word Data registry subkey, follow these steps:


1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Type regedit in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in the
Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter.
3. Locate the following registry subkey, as appropriate for the version of Word that you are
using:
Word 2016
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\Data
Word 2013
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Word\Data
Word 2010
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word\Data
Word 2007
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Data
Word 2003
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Word\Data
4. Click Data, and then click Export on the File menu.
5. Name the file Wddata.reg, and then save the file to the desktop.
6. On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click Yes.
7. Exit Registry Editor.
8. Start Word.
If Word starts and works correctly, you have resolved the problem (a damaged Word Data
registry key). You may now have to change several settings to restore your favorite options in
Word.
If the problem is not resolved, restore the original Word Data registry subkey, and then try the
next method.
Restore the original Word Data registry key

To restore the original Word Data registry subkey, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Double-click the Wddata.reg icon on the desktop.
3. Click Yes, and then click OK.
If restoring the Word Data registry subkey doesnt work, go to the next procedure.

Method 4: Delete the Word Options registry key


The Word Options registry key stores options that you can set in Word. These settings are
divided into default and optional groups. Default settings are created during the program setup.
Optional settings are not created during setup. You can change both the default and optional
settings in Word.
To delete the Word Options registry key, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Type regedit in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in the
Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter.
3. Locate the following registry subkey, as appropriate for the version of Word that you are
running:
Word 2016
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\Options
Word 2013
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Word\Options
Word 2010
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word\Options
Word 2007
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Options
Word 2003
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Word\Options
4. Click Options, and then click Export on the File menu.
5. Name the file Wddata.reg, and then save the file to the desktop.

6. On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click Yes.


7. Exit Registry Editor.
8. Start Word.
If Word starts and works correctly, you have resolved the problem (a damaged Word Options
registry key). You may now have to change several settings to restore your favorite options in
Word.
If the problem is not resolved, restore the original Word Options registry key, and then try the
next method.
To restore the original Word Options registry key
To restore the original Word Options registry key, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Double-click the Wdoptn.reg icon on the desktop.
3. Click Yes, and then click OK.

Method 5: Replace the Normal.dot or Normal.dotm global template file


You can prevent formatting, AutoText, and macros that are stored in the global template file from
affecting the behavior of Word and any documents that you open. To do this, replace the global
template file.
Important This method includes renaming the global template file so that Word does not find it as
expected when it restarts. This forces Word to re-create the global template file. By doing this,
you save the original file in case you have to restore it. Be aware that when you rename the
global template file, several settings are reset to their defaults, including custom styles, custom
toolbars, macros, and AutoText entries. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you save the
global template file and do not delete it.
Additional note In certain situations, you may have more than one global template file. For
example, this occurs if multiple versions of Word are running on the same computer, or if several
workstation installations exist on the same computer. In these situations, make sure that you
rename each global template file so that it clearly reflects the appropriate Word installation.
To rename the global template file, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.

2. Type cmd in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in the
Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter.
3. At the command prompt, type the following command, as appropriate for the version of
Word that you are running, and then press Enter:
Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, or Word 2007
ren %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Normal.dotm
OldNormal.dotm

Word 2003
ren %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Normal.dot
OldNormal.dot

4. At the command prompt, type exit, and then press Enter.


5. Start Word.
If Word starts correctly, you have resolved the problem. In this case, the problem is a damaged
global template file. Now, you may have to change several settings to restore your favorite
options.
Note The old global template file may contain customizations that can't be easily re-created.
These customizations may include styles, macros, and AutoText entries. In this case, you may be
able to copy the customizations from the old global template file to the new global template file
by using the Organizer. For more information about how to use the Organizer to copy macros
and styles, press F1 in Word to open Microsoft Word Help, type rename macros in the Search
box, and then click Search to view the topic.
If the problem is not resolved, restore the original global template file, and then go to the next
section.
Restore the original global template file
To restore the original global template file, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Type cmd in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in the
Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter.
3. At the command prompt, type the following command, as appropriate for the version of
Word that you are running, and then press Enter:

Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010 and Word 2007


ren %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\OldNormal.dotm
Normal.dotm

Word 2003
ren %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\OldNormal.dot
Normal.dot

4. Type exit, and then press Enter.


5. Start Word.

Method 6: Disable the Startup folder add-ins


When you start Word, Word automatically loads templates and add-ins that are located in the
Startup folders. Conflicts or problems that affect an add-in can cause problems in Word. To
determine whether an item in a Startup folder is causing the problem, temporarily disable the
registry setting that points to these add-ins.
To do this, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Start Windows Explorer. Type windows ex in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows
8.1, or Windows 8) or in the Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of
Windows), and then press Enter.
3. Type the following command in the address bar, as appropriate for the version of Word
that you're running and its installation type, and then press Enter:
Word 2016
64-bit C2R installation:
%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\root\office16\Startup\
32-bit C2R installation:
%programfiles% (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\office16\Startup\
64-bit MSI installation:
%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\office16\Startup\
32-bit MSI installation:
%programfiles% (x86)\Microsoft Office\office16\Startup\

Word 2013
64-bit C2R installation:
%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\root\office15\Startup\
32-bit C2R installation:
%programfiles% (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\office15\Startup\
64-bit MSI installation:
%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\office15\Startup\
32-bit MSI installation:
%programfiles% (x86)\Microsoft Office\office15\Startup\
Word 2010
%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\Office14\Startup\
Word 2007
%programfiles%\Microsoft Office\Office12\Startup\
Word 2003
%programfiles%\Microsoft\Office\Office11\Startup\
4. Right-click one of the files that is contained in the folder, and then click Rename.
5. After the file name, type .old, and then press Enter.
ImportantMake a note of the original file name so that you can restore the file, if it is
necessary.
6. Start Word.
7. If you can no longer reproduce the problem, you have found the specific add-in that
causes the problem. If you must have the features that the add-in provides, contact the
vendor of the add-in for an update.
If the problem is not resolved, rename the add-in by using its original name, and then
repeat steps 3 through 6 for each file in the Startup folder.
8. If you can still reproduce the problem, type the following path in the address bar of
Windows Explorer, and then click OK.

For Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista


%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\Startup
For Windows XP
%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Word\Startup
9. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for each file in this Startup folder.
If the problem is not resolved after you disable the Startup folder add-ins, go to the next method.

Method 7: Delete the COM add-ins registry keys


You can install COM add-ins in any location. Programs that interact with Word install COM addins. To determine whether a COM add-in is causing the problem, temporarily disable the COM
add-ins by deleting the registry keys for the COM add-ins.
To delete the COM add-ins registry keys, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Type regedit in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in the
Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter.
3. Locate the following registry subkey:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins
4. Click Addins, and then click Export on the File menu.
5. Name the file WdaddinHKCU.reg, and then save the file to the desktop.
6. On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click Yes.
7. Locate the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins
8. Click Addins, and then on the File menu, click Export.
9. Name the file WdaddinHKLM.reg, and then save the file to the desktop.
10. On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click Yes.

11. Exit Registry Editor.


12. Start Word.
If the problem is resolved, you have determined that a COM add-in program is causing the
problem. Next, you must determine which COM add-in program is causing the problem.
Determine which COM add-in program is causing the problem
To determine which COM add-in program is causing the problem, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Double-click the Wdaddin.reg icon on your desktop.
3. Click Yes, and then click OK.
4. Use one of the following procedures, as appropriate for the version of Word that you are
running:
Word 2016, Word 2013, or Word 2010
1. On the File menu, click Options.
2. Click Add-Ins.
3. In the Manage list, click COM Add-Ins, and then click Go.
Note If an add-in is listed in the COM Add-Ins dialog box, clear the add-in check
box. If more than one add-in is listed, clear only one add-in check box at a time.
This procedure helps determine which add-in is causing the problem.
4. Click OK to close the COM Add-Ins dialog box.
5. On the File menu, click Exit.

Word 2007
6. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word options.
7. Click Add-ins.
8. In the Manage list, click COM Add-ins, and then click Go.

If an add-in is listed in the COM Add-Ins dialog box, click to clear the add-in
check box. If more than one add-in is listed, click to clear only one add-in check
box at a time. This procedure helps determine which add-in is causing the
problem.
9. Click OK to close the COM Add-Ins dialog box.
10. Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Exit Word.
11. On the File menu, click Exit.
5. Start Word.
If the problem is resolved when you start Word, you have determined which COM add-in is
causing the problem. If you must have the features that the add-in provides, you must determine
which add-in includes those features so that you can contact the vendor for an update.
If the problem is not resolved when you start Word, repeat steps 4 and 5 for each COM add-in
that's listed until you determine which add-in is causing the problem.
To restore the COM add-ins, repeat step 4, but select the check box for each COM add-in that
you want to restore.

Method 8: Change the default printer


To change the default printer, follow these steps:
1. Exit all Office programs.
2. Type regedit in the Search box (in Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 8) or in
the Start Search box on the Start menu (in earlier versions of Windows), and then press
Enter Devices and Printers.
3. Right-click Microsoft XPS Document Writer, and then click Set as default printer.
4. Start Word.
If the problem is resolved after you start Word, you have determined that the printer is causing
the problem. If this is the case, contact the vendor to see whether there is an update for the
printer driver.

Microsoft Support options


If you can't resolve this problem, you can use Microsoft Support to search the Microsoft
Knowledge Base and other technical resources for answers. You can also customize the site to
control your search. To start your search, go to the Microsoft Support website.