Basically, there are five things you need to understand in order to troubleshoot and fix most of your Word problems.
1. Word stores most of its format settings in a global template called normal.dot.
2. Word has a Startup folder, which holds add-ins that start automatically when Word is launched.
3. Toolbars and macro settings are recorded in a Registry key called "Data".
4. Proofing Tools, like spell checker and grammar checker, are stored in a Registry key called "Proofing Tools".
5. Within a document, paragraph formatting is stored in paragraph marker at end of that paragraph.
So, let's talk about Word crashes, out of memory errors, freeze-ups, and blue screens of death. How do we know where problem is originating and how to fix it?
If Word is not launching for you at all or is crashing or freezing as soon as it comes on screen, odds are your global template has become corrupt or something is loading automatically in your Word Startup folder that is misconfigured or corrupt. To see if it's a corrupt global template, go to your Start button and click on Run. In Run box, type "winword.exe /a" (without quotes, but WITH space). If Word launches OK, then it probably is your normal.dot file that is bad (since this switch launches Word with a clean, empty template). To get yourself a new, uncorrupt template, simply close Word and search your computer for normal.dot and rename or delete it. When you launch Word again, it will look for normal.dot and if it can't find it, it will create a new one. If this does NOT cause Word to launch correctly, then you need to look inside Word's Startup Folder and see if there are any add-ins in there that could be causing problem. This folder is usually located at C:Windows Application data Microsoft Word Startup (Or if you run Windows 2000 or have multiple Windows profiles, look in your user profile or all users for your application data folder. Or, if all else fails, search your hard drive for startup and you will find it.) If there are any files in there, move them all to another location and see if Word launches. If it does, then move files back one at a time until you find culprit.
If Word launches fine, but crashes or freezes when you perform some function like making text bold or hitting Print icon, it is possible your registry's data key has become corrupt. The Data key stores a lot of your toolbar and macro settings. To fix this, you must close Word and edit registry as follows:
Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftOffice9.0 Word. (Note: 9.0 refers to Word 2000, if you use Word 97, you will see 8.0 and Word 2002 is 10.0) Inside Word folder, you will see a folder called "Data". Delete this Data folder and relaunch Word. Just like with global template, Word will look for this Data folder and recreate it fresh if it can't find it.
(If you do not know how to locate or use Registry, you can go to my Registry page for instructions, but be warned that editing Registry is something to be taken very seriously and can render your computer unusable if you mess up. So, pay close attention to instructions on my page for backing up Registry before you edit it and know that YOU are liable if you make a mistake. Instructions are here: http://www.personal-computer-tutor.com/registry.htm )
If Word works well until you try to use spell checker or grammar checker and either of these cause your computer to freeze up or crash, or if spell checker is grayed out in your Tools menu and you cannot get it to work, problem could be with Proofing Tools folders in your Registry. To fix this, go back in to your Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftShared ToolsProofing Tools. In this Proofing Tools folder, you will see four subfolders: Grammar, Hyphenation, Spelling, and Thesaurus. Just delete folder that is causing problems and relaunch Word and it will again create a new one for you.