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Microsoft: Office FAQ

Tips and Tricks

Steps for Troubleshooting Microsoft Word 97 & 2000 by Dreamboat
Posted: 12 Apr 01

Many people post their problem, then go on to explain how they have reinstalled Office. For many problems, reinstalling Office does not help. Here are the steps you should take, in order. They apply to Windows 95 or 98. Persons with other Operating Systems should adjust their Windows menu commands accordingly.

1. Ensure that Word, and not the document, is the problem.

If you experience the behavior in any file, and particularly in a new file, then you know that the problem lies with Word. If you cannot duplicate the behavior in another file, it is likely a corrupt document. The steps to troubleshoot corrupt documents can be found in this FAQ: http://www.tek-tips.com/faqs.cfm?spid=68&sfid=580&CFID=16682654&CFTOKEN=44605569 entitled MS Office File Corruption Fixes.

2. Clean up your hard drive.

Keeping your hard drive clean is of the utmost importance, particularly when attempting to troubleshoot other problems. Complete instructions are available as an autoreply by emailing CleanHardDrive@Home.Com. Please do not include any message when emailing this address.

3a. Rename normal.dot.

With Word closed. Find and rename the normal.dot file on your system. If there is more than one, rename them all. If you cannot find normal.dot, or if you are on a network, you can find where your normal.dot is stored by checking under "User Templates" in the Tools-Options menu of Word, on the File Locations tab. If you do not have "permission" to rename normal.dot, check with your network administrator or internal helpdesk (applies only on PCs at work, not home users).

After you have renamed normal.dot, launch Word. If the problem is not resolved, move to step 4.

Normal.dot is the default or global template that Word uses to create a blank document. Normal.dot is always in use when Word is open, even if you are using another template. It is very common for normal.dot files to become corrupt. They also store macro viruses.

When you launch Word, it looks for normal.dot and opens it. For more information on normal.dot and Word 2000, see the MS Technet Article at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q214/2/15.ASP.

If Word cannot locate a normal.dot file, it creates a brand new one. When you first install Word, normal.dot is not installed with it. Uninstalling does not delete normal.dot. These facts explain why reinstalling Office or Word does not fix a problem with a corrupt or virus-infected normal.dot file. Your newly installed program finds normal.dot right where it was before.

You may have settings in your normal.dot that you would like to keep. That is why, instead of deleting normal.dot, it is recommended that you rename it to abnormal.dot or normal1.dot. Then, you can use the Organizer to copy such things as macros and toolbars from the old template to the new one.

3b. Check the Startup folder.

With Word closed, use Windows Explorer to find the Word Startup folder, usually C:\program files\Microsoft\Office\Word\Startup. Make sure there are no files in there that you did not intentionally put in there yourself.

Word has the STARTUP folder and Excel has the XLSTART folder. Files in either of these folders are automatically opened when you launch the respective program.

4. "Dump" the registry key.

We are opening the Windows Registry Editor. You may have read that this is dangerous, and that can be true. Normally, we would backup your registry to be safe, but we're going to rename only your Word key. If you follow the instructions exactly, you will not have a problem.

Start-->Run and type:


Hit your Enter key. As you might browse folders in Windows Explorer, browse to the appropriate path:

For Word 97:

For Word 2000:

If you are unable to find this folder, or do not understand how to find it, then you should stop here and get support over the phone or in person.

Once you have found the path, right click the Word folder, hit Rename and rename it to OldWord. Hit Enter, and then exit the Registry Editor; and then relaunch Word. If this still has not resolved the problem, move on to Step 5.

5. Uninstall, Erase, and Reinstall Office.

Uninstall using Add/Remove programs in the Control Panel. Start-->Settings-->Control panel. Select Office, and then choose Remove.

Run Eraser 97 or 2000, as appropriate. Instructions and downloads can be found at:

Office 97:

Office 2000:

Prior to reinstalling any program, make sure that there are no programs running in the background that could interfere with the installation. Hit ctrl-alt-del to bring up your task list. One by one, end task on all items EXCEPT Explorer and Systray.

Reinstall the program using the disks.

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