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:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/299339

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:
     Options.UseCharacterUnit=False
  • 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. ...

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