Changing Stubborn Ruler Measurements

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 10, 2014)


Barbara has a problem on her system: The Ruler seems to be divided into points, but she needs it to display inches. She went through the usual approach of choosing Tools | Options | General tab to change the measurement units, but that wouldn't change things for her.

What Barbara is experiencing is a glitch in Word related to the Ruler. What she is seeing is not points, but character units, which are used when Word is working with Asian languages. This problem is described, along with a fix, at the following Knowledge Base article:

As the article says, this problem sometimes occurs when upgrading to Word 2003, but there have also been reports of it happening spontaneously in other versions of Word. As the article describes, there are two possible solutions.

One solution is to delete the data settings key in the Registry. This, of course, may also delete other configuration settings you don't want to lose in Word. (How to delete the data settings key, besides being described in the Knowledge Base article, is also described in other issues of WordTips.) Because of this drawback, it's best to try the other solution first:

  1. Press Alt+F11 to display the VBA Editor.
  2. Press Ctrl+G to display the Immediate window.
  3. Type this single command into the Immediate window, then press Enter:
  • Close the VBA Editor.
  • That's it; the character units should be gone, and your Ruler will use whatever setting you've made in Tools | Options | General tab.

    WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (240) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

    Author Bio

    Allen Wyatt

    With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


    Determining if Overtype Mode is Active

    Your macro may need to determine if the user has overtype mode turned on. You can find out the overtype status easily by ...

    Discover More

    Indenting Cell Contents

    Excel allows you to apply several types of alignments to cells. One type of alignment allows you to indent cell contents ...

    Discover More

    Opening and Printing a Document

    Want a quick, fast way to print a Word document? Here's a way that can't be beat!

    Discover More

    Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

    More WordTips (menu)

    Selecting Tabs in Dialog Boxes

    Dialog boxes normally present information in a series of tabs. If you want to move from tab to tab without taking your ...

    Discover More

    Persistent Reviewing Toolbar Display

    How to fix a problem with the Word 2000 issue of the Reviewing Toolbar disappearing.

    Discover More

    Automatically Updating Fields and Links

    You can update fields and links automatically when you print your document, but what if you want them updated when you ...

    Discover More

    FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

    View most recent newsletter.


    If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

    What is five less than 8?

    2018-03-09 18:04:13


    Thank you for this tip! This worked for Word 2010, which I 'd been struggling to fix for months. I'm truly lucky to have found this.

    2018-01-31 21:25:03


    This was very helpful for me to change to inches using the Word software in Japan! Thanks!

    This Site

    Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

    Newest Tips

    FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

    (Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

    View the most recent newsletter.