The Main Issue
Most Microsoft Word users have dealt with documents that seem unstable - they lock your computer up, the file size is larger than you would expect, the formatting is glitchy, etc. In many cases, the issues can be resolved by de-corrupting the document (which I’ll explain how to do below).
A related issue is the use of .doc files rather than .docx files. If your organization has been around long enough to have used Word 2003 and prior, then you probably have a lot of old .doc files still in use. If you open an old .doc file and save it as a new file name, that doesn’t automatically convert it to .docx. However, if you intend to use those old documents in the future, you need to convert them to .docx files (I’ll also explain how to do this below). The main reasons why you want .docx instead of .doc files are: 1) .docx files are smaller and occupy less space on your computer/server; 2) .docx files cannot hold macro viruses (.doc files can be infected with them); 3) .docx files don’t get corrupted like .doc files often do; and 4) .docx is not a Microsoft proprietary format (they’re based on XML) which means the files play nicer with other programs.
How To Fix an Unstable File
Just follow these steps:
1. Save the file to your desktop or other easily accessible location. If you have a DMS, you need to save it outside of the DMS until you’ve fixed it.
2. In Word, click File menu > Open. If your DMS intercepts that command, escape out of it so you can see the normal Word Open dialog. Browse to the file you saved and single click it so it is highlighted.
3. Now click the down-arrow adjacent to the Open button at the bottom of the dialog and choose Open and Repair (see below).
4. If the file was corrupted, you’re likely to get a pop up dialog like the following after it opens the file. Just click the Close button because it’s just showing you what it found and fixed (and it probably won’t make any sense anyway).
5. If the document wasn’t already a .docx file, you want to save it as one now. With the now repaired document still open, click File menu > Save As > change the “Save as type” drop down to “Word Document (*.docx)” from “Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc).” Leave the “Maintain compatibility” box unchecked.
6. Next you’ll likely see the following dialog. Simply click the OK button.
7. You’ll still have the old .doc file but in the future, you should only use the .docx version. It might make sense to simply delete the old .doc file once you’ve opened the new file and confirmed that everything looks right.