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Microsoft: Office FAQ

Tips and Tricks

MS Office File Corruption Fixes by Dreamboat
Posted: 21 Mar 01


Think your file is corrupt? If you keep getting illegal operations or faults when youÆre using a specific document, it probably is corrupt. Below youÆll find tricks on opening your files.

General Tricks

One trick that might work with any of the files is to hold down the left shift key while you double-click to open the file. Why? This keeps automatic Visual Basic code from running and certain other auto-commands, which may be causing the error. (Similarly, this sometimes works if youÆre getting an error starting a program; hold the shift key down while you launch the program.)

Another trick that works is to open them from a higher version of a SIMILAR program. You might not always get the results you want, but youÆll be able to edit it and save it back. Sometimes, a different program doesnÆt interpret the corrupt portion of the document. For instance, try opening a Word 97 file with Wordperfect 8; try opening an Excel 97 file with Lotus 1-2-3 Millenium.

If youÆre at work, and store your files on a network drive, you can always retrieve a copy of your file from the previous network backup. Depending on the size of your company and the response time of your helpdesk, this can take anywhere from one to twenty-four hours or even longer.

If your file resides on a floppy, always try the following, no matter how ridiculous it sounds: take the floppy out and blow on the areas (donÆt spit on it!). Try copying the file from the floppy to a location on the hard drive. Try running scandisk and defrag on the floppy drive. Lastly, take it to another PC and attempt to open it. If the latter works, you might want to have your floppy drive checked out.


Open the file and hit the show/hide button on your standard toolbar. With your cursor at the beginning of your document, hit ctrl-end. Then, hold down the left shift key and use the right arrow key to deselect any extra paragraph markers at the bottom of your document. If there is only one, you may want to go ahead and deselect the last sentence of your document-ùyou can always retype it. Hit the copy button or ctrl-c to copy the document. Paste it into a new, blank document, and save it. Generally, if the file size has reduced considerably, youÆve probably gotten rid of the corruption. (You may need to reset certain formatting, such as landscaped pages.) Hit File-Properties and then the General tab to view the file size in the original document, and then in the new document; or just go to Windows Explorer to compare sizes. If that doesnÆt work, most likely there is a graphic or other object in the document that is corrupt. You can copy and paste pieces of your document to a new document, saving the new document each time, until you get the error. Then you can copy the rest of the documentùall but that portion, into the new document. Another trick is to open a blank document, hit enter at least once, then hit Insert-File and insert your "bad" file into the new file. (Thanks to GeekGirlAU for this additional tip!) This method also removes protection from a document that has been protected using Tools-Protect Document, even if it's got a password. It does not work to open a password-protected file. If all else fails, you can always try the ôRecover text from any fileö option under the file types in Word when you open the document.


Open the file. If it has more than one sheet, right-click one of the sheets and hit Select all sheets. Now right-click one of the sheets youÆre using in the file, or right-click the only sheet youÆre using, and hit Move or Copy. Select New Book from the drop-down, select the Make a copy checkbox and hit OK. YouÆll have a new file in front of you that contains all of the sheets from the bad file. Save it. Again, the size of this document might be considerably reduced when compared with the size of the bad file. Another way, particularly if your file only has one sheet and you get the ôinvalid file typeö error, is to open the file from Word. In WordÆs File-Open dialog box, make sure you change the files of type to All files. As a last-ditch-effort, use the ôRecover text from any fileö option under the file types in Word (yes, Word) to open the Excel document.


Create a new, blank Powerpoint file. Hit Insert-Slides from file. Try to insert the slides from the bad file. This seldom works, but it must be tried! Powerpoint files, in my experience, get corrupt more than any other type, and usually cannot be opened once they have; youÆll get a message telling you it is not a valid Powerpoint file. To avoid this, always keep a copy of your file. Just save a copy of it to another location every time youÆve done an hourÆs or more worth of work, or created a particularly difficult chart, etc. Suggestion: If you embed Excel spreadsheets, charts, Word tables, Orgcharts, save these items as individual files AS WELL. That way, if you lose the Presentation, you will have these files, which can sometimes be the most difficult to create.


Always attempt to first repair and then compact the database. If that doesnÆt work, create a new, blank database and attempt to import the objects from the bad database into the new one.

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