Measurement of Choice Isn't Persistent

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 25, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Celeste recently got a new PC at work, and it has Office 2003 installed on it. This system defaults to using points for the measurement system, instead of the inches that Celeste desires. She tried changing the measurement units using Tools | Options | General | Measurement Units, but they keep reverting to points.

It appears that your new PC is not necessarily new; chances are very good that it used to be someone else's system, and in preparation for delivery to you, Microsoft Office was upgraded from an older version to Office 2003. The problem you are describing sounds suspiciously like a bug that occurs periodically when upgrading from Word 2000 to either Word 2002 or Word 2003. Microsoft describes the problem in the Knowledge Base:

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

Basically, what you are seeing is not points, but character units. Normally these are used only when Word is working with Asian languages. 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. (This shouldn't be a big problem if you are working with a "new" PC on which you haven't done much customization.) How to delete the data settings key, besides being described in the Knowledge Base article, is also described in other issues of WordTips. If you don't want to lose other settings, it may actually be best to try the second fix 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 you can use Tools | Options | General | Measurement Units to set your measurement of choice.

    WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (302) 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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