Question

Q: Document Corruption Renders Program Unusable

Microsoft Word is so vulnerable to corruption that is not usable. As a lawyer I have no choice but the product is so bad, and there seems to be no way to cure the corruption, someone ought to be held accountable. It is pasting, fomatting, anything using a document that does between doc and docx, it fails and I get a spinning wheel and crash. Recently, it would not even save the "recovered" files. 

They need a way to "clean" documents to this stops.  This has cost me thousands of dollars in lost productivity and unspeakable angst. 

I have a MacBook Pro Retina with 16GB and this happens; just bad coding by MS is all there is.  This seems so god damn simple, as the document is just text, maybe a few small images and less than 20 pages.  Just awful.

Answer

A:

Hi Tom:

It is some years since I lost a document to "corruption" in Word for Mac.  Come to think of it, I have probably "never" completely lost one.

I use a few simple techniques that avoid corruption.  I do very long ( greater than 5,000 pages) very complex documents in Word for a living, so I had to learn these techniques.  More than happy to show them to you if you are interested.

1)  Keep it up to date.  Use Help>Check for Updates, and set that to check automatically for updates.  Word will simply not run on OS 10.8 without all its updates.

2)  "Never use change tracking".  Just "never", for anything.  Instead, use "Compare Documents".  It gives you the same result, but won't corrupt the document.

3)  Never use direct formatting, for anything.  Use Styles for all formatting.

4)  Never use "Drag and Drop" editing.  Use "Cut and Paste" instead.  I am one of the worst offenders here: drag and drop is so tempting.  But it is fatal!

5)  Never change format between .doc and .docx.  Change any .doc you see to .docx and leave it that way.  Some people keep repeating the myth that .doc and .docx are equivalent.  They are not, and never were!  The .doc format is incapable of describing or storing the things a .docx file can contain.  Each time you downgrade to .doc, you are ripping out or downgrading the information inside.  Eventually, the file will go "bang" as you have discovered.

There's no need for .doc any more.  And they're fragile!  They break constantly!  Anyone who can read .doc can also read .docx, so send them that.  Ensure you include the file extension on the end, and the recipient will usually never know you've sent a .docx.

Happy to provide more information if you like, but I just thought it important to head you off in the correct direction immediately.  Of course Microsoft Word is not perfect: it is built down to a price!  FrameMaker is about 800 bucks a copy, and it crashes nearly as often as Word.  InterLeaf is about $135,000 a copy, and it still crashes.  I am sure that if all of the Word users in the world agreed to pay $250,000 a copy for Word, Microsoft would be delighted to fix all the bugs in it.  But I am not willing to spend that amount of cash, so I put up with the bugs...

Hope this helps
John McGhie, Microsoft MVP (Mac Word), Consultant Technical Writer. http://www.john.mcghie.com.au

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Views: 1,703 Last updated: January 24, 2018 Applies to: