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: Unable to Set Margins in a Document.

Unable to Set Margins in a Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 13, 2015)

5

Susie wrote about a problem she was having with setting margins in some documents. In her office, everyone shares documents. In such an environment, it is not unusual to reuse someone else's document, or use an existing document as the basis for a new document. Susie reports that sometimes she tries to change the margins on a document, but that she cannot—the preview area in the Page Setup dialog box doesn't display correctly, and any changes to the controls are ineffectual.

The fact that this is only happening with some documents is an indicator that the problem doesn't lie with Word, but with the documents exhibiting this behavior. More than likely, the document has, in some way, become corrupted. Here is one way to try to "reclaim" your document:

  1. Open the problem document.
  2. Create a brand new, blank document.
  3. In the new document, set the margins the way you want them to appear.
  4. In the problem document, press Ctrl+A to select the entire document.
  5. Hold down the Shift key as you press the Left Arrow. This "unselects" the final paragraph marker in the document. (You should have everything in the document selected except the final paragraph marker.)
  6. Press Ctrl+C. The document is copied to the Clipboard.
  7. Switch to the new document.
  8. Press Ctrl+V. The text from the old document is pasted in the new document.
  9. Close all the documents.

At this point you should do your work with the new document. You will need to enter headers and footers again, but the document should now work as you expect it to. Once you are satisfied, you can delete the problem document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3423) 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: Unable to Set Margins in a Document.

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

Removing the Box from a Text Box

Insert a text box, and it is automatically formatted to have a border around it. Getting rid of the border is easy, if you ...

Discover More

Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard

Hate to take your hands off the keyboard while working on a worksheet? Here's one way to activate the Formula Bar without the ...

Discover More

Counting Words

Do you need to know how many words are in a range of cells? Excel provides no intrinsic way to count the words, but you can ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Formatting a Cover Page

Formal reports look better when they are set up with an introductory cover page. Here's how you can add a cover page in a ...

Discover More

Adjusting Bottoms of Pages

When you allow Word to naturally flow your text through a document, you may find that the text on each page ends at a ...

Discover More

Adjusting Margins in Print Preview

Print Preview is a great way to give a document the final "once over" before printing. Word allows you to do some minimal ...

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 9 - 2?

2017-01-02 12:09:01

Mathew

I spent a day and a half finding a solution for this problem. I concur Steve is right. thanks Steve 15 June.


2016-09-06 16:01:58

Jeff

I did exactly what you stated and it did not work at all.

the margin in my document is about 3 inches and I cannot do anything to get it reduced.


2016-07-05 12:07:16

Steve Dunham 15 Jun 2015 is RIGHT!

In fact, this problem occurs when the file is corrupt most likely from compatibility problems between different versions of word.

The column button is a much easier fix than the solution above.


2016-05-16 23:38:11

Lee Holden

None of the instructions here are of any effect.

The person who wrote in commenting about the columns issue is absolutely correct.

I had bullet points arranged into 3 columns but this left a space I couldn't write in at the bottom of that page (this wasn't the case in subsequent pages). Eben that persons 'workaround' hasn't worked for me.

This is a massive glitch and the only way forward is to copy and paste onto notepad and then back to a separate word document again!

I shouldn't have to do this but Microsoft are really to blame for not foreseeing glitches like this!


2015-06-15 09:28:59

Steve Dunham

Another possibility is that the document is erroneously set to have more than one column. There was a defective template circulating where I worked and nobody could adjust the margins until somebody discovered that some or all of it was unintentionally set to have more than one column. Selecting the whole document and choosing One from the columns menu fixed that, then the margins could be adjusted.


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.