Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Direction Arrows Confused.

Direction Arrows Confused

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 23, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Pat reports that something really strange has happened with one of her Word documents. For some reason, the arrow keys have become confused. Pressing the left arrow moves the cursor right, while right goes left. Similarly, pressing the up arrow moves the cursor down and the down arrow moves it up.

The first thing you'll want to do is to open the document on a different system to see if the problem is evident there, as well. If it is, then you know that the problem is with the document itself. If it is not, then the problem is with the original system.

If this behavior is evident in only a single document, then there are only a limited number of reasons as to why it could be happening. The first thing to check is whether there are any macros associated with the document. It could be that the macros redefine the behavior of the arrow keys. If that is the case, then you can delete or edit the macros to make the behavior change.

The other possible cause is that the document is corrupted in some manner. Corrupt documents can display all sorts of strange behaviors, including keyboard quirks. If you suspect this is the case, then you'll need to go through some rather standard steps for dealing with corrupt documents. (How you handle corrupt documents has been discussed in other issues of WordTips.)

If the problem is with the computer itself, then you might try swapping out the keyboard for a new one to see if that takes care of the problem.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (506) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Direction Arrows Confused.

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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