Fatal Errors in Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 14, 2019)

Peggy wrote about a problem she was having with Word. It seems that every so often she would see an error message that asked if she wanted to send a message to Microsoft about the error. The only choice was to send the error report or not; regardless of whether she clicked Yes or No, Word would exit and restart.

After posting this question in the Help Wanted section of WordTips, other subscribers wrote to indicate that they had experienced similar problems and were very interested in an answer. Unfortunately, an answer is not as easy to come by as one might hope. The reason? There are any number of "causes" that can make Word go into the shut-down-and-restart sequence, all of which will include an offer to send an error report to Microsoft.

It is possible for fatal errors to crop up periodically; that seems to be the lot and life of a computer user. However, such errors should not become a regular, repeatable occurrence. If they become such, then there is something wrong with either your document or with the actual installation of Word. In such an instance, you have a couple of options.

First, you should make sure that you have upgraded your version of Word to include the latest service pack. This will make sure you are up to date. If that doesn't work, you will need to determine if the problem occurs with only one document, or with all documents. If it happens with some documents but not others, look for commonalities between the affected documents. For instance, the documents could all have the same template attached. If it is a document (or a template) then you need to follow the procedures—outlined in other issues of WordTips—for salvaging a corrupted document.

You could also start removing third-party pieces and parts that may have been added to Word. For instance, if you are using some add-ins, you might want to remove them or disable them in some way to see if the problem clears up. If it does, you have then identified the source of the problem.

If all of the above fail. take some time to do a bit of detective work to identify the problem. The best way is to open different documents, individually, and see if the problem can be recreated. If the problem only occurs with one or two documents, then look for things that are similar between the documents that aren't in the other documents. For instance, you might notice that the problem documents only contain graphics, or they are the only ones that are master documents. These similarities will help you figure out what is causing the problem.

Of course, if the problem is with one or two documents and there are no similarities between them, then the problem could be the documents themselves. Recreate the documents or copy everything from them into new documents. (Don't copy the very last paragraph mark in the problem documents.) This should hopefully help clear up the problems.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (778) 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using Call to Run VBA Macros

An elegant way to run macros from within macros is to use the Call statement. In order to use it, you need to provide a ...

Discover More

Zooming with the Keyboard

Excel doesn't provide a keyboard shortcut that allows you to zoom in or out on your workbook. It is easy, however, to ...

Discover More

Inserting a Picture in Your Worksheet

Worksheets can contain more than just text and numbers. Here's the low-down on the different types of pictures you can ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Program Opens without the Desired Document

Double-click a document link in the recent documents list maintained by Windows, and you may be surprised if Word doesn't ...

Discover More

Multiple Document Directories for Word

Word 97 users would follow these steps to specify multiple directories for documents.

Discover More

Delay in Dialog Box Appearing

If your copy of Word seems to be slowing down a lot lately, it could be time to do some remedial work on your system. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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 more than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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
Subscribe

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.