Print Preview Freezes Word

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 12, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003

Georgine has a problem with Word—every time she uses Print Preview, Word locks up. This, of course, is not the way that Word is supposed to work. There are four possible culprits for this behavior: the document, the template, the printer driver, or the Word settings.

If the behavior occurs with just a specific document (but not with others), then there is a good chance that the document is somehow corrupted. The most common way to "fix" corrupted documents is to follow these steps:

  1. Open the document that has problems.
  2. Create a new, blank document.
  3. In the document that has problems, press Ctrl+A to select the entire document.
  4. Press Shift+Backspace. This makes sure that the final paragraph mark in the document is not selected.
  5. Press Ctrl+C to copy the select text to the Clipboard.
  6. Switch to the new, blank document you created in step 2.
  7. Press Ctrl+V to paste the information to the new document.
  8. Save the new document and close the old one.

If the behavior occurs with a group of documents, but not with all documents, it could be due to a corrupted template. Check to see if the problem documents all have the same template attached. If so, then attach a different template and see if the problem persists. If it doesn't, then you will need to delete the problem template and create a new one.

It is possible that there is a problem with the printer driver you have installed on your system. When you choose to display the Print Preview form of a document, Word works closely with the printer driver for the printer you are using. If the printer driver is misbehaving, then Word may lock up. You can see if this is the case by switching to a different printer before using Print Preview, or by installing a different printer driver and seeing if the problem persists. If it does go away, then you know your original printer driver is at fault. In such a case, you should visit the Web site for the printer manufacturer and download their latest printer driver.

The final possibility is that one of the settings stored by Word in the Registry has been messed up. Reinstalling Word won't help, because the information in the Registry is persistent from one install to the next. Instead, you must edit the Registry yourself (after making sure you back up the Registry) by using the regedit program. This program is available on all versions of Windows, and the way you start it will vary slightly depending on your version. Here's how you start it in Windows XP:

  1. Make sure you exit Word completely.
  2. Choose the Run option from the Start menu. This displays the Run dialog box.
  3. In the Open box enter the name regedit.
  4. Click on OK. This starts the Regedit program. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Registry Editor program.

  6. Select the HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Office/xxx/Word key, where xxx should be replaced with your version number of Word (8.0 for Word 97, 9.0 for Word 2000, 10.0 for Word 2002, or 11.0 for Word 2003).
  7. Press the Delete key. You are asked if you want to really delete the key.
  8. Click on Yes. The selected key is deleted.
  9. Close the Registry Editor.

When you restart Word, it should be in a "default" condition, so any errant changes that may have caused problems should be gone.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (596) 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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