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: Determining if a Document is Corrupt.

Determining if a Document is Corrupt

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 15, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Vivian noted that there are times she suspects that a document may be corrupt, but she doesn't really know for sure. This leads her to wonder if there is an easy way to verify the integrity of a document or to easily tell if a document is corrupt.

The short answer is that there is no way to easily tell if a document is corrupted. The internal structure of Word documents is quite complex, and complexity always presents the possibility of corruption. The severity of the corruption can manifest itself in different ways. Some problems may result in a minor "glitch" (such as a character or two changing in a document) that can be easily corrected. Other problems may result in document instability or, in severe cases, a document that is completely unusable.

If you suspect a document is corrupt and you can still open the document, these steps represent the "tried and true" first line of trying to recover the document:

  1. Open the corrupt document.
  2. Create a brand new document.
  3. Switch to the corrupt document.
  4. Press Ctrl+A. This selects the entire document.
  5. Hold down the Shift key as you press the Left Arrow key. This makes sure that the very last character in the document (the ending paragraph mark) is not selected.
  6. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the selected portion of the document to the Clipboard.
  7. Switch to the new document (the one created in step 2).
  8. Press Ctrl+V. The contents of the Clipboard are pasted into the blank document.
  9. Save the new document.
  10. Close the document you suspect is corrupted.

If you are using Word 2003 there is something else you can try, as well. When you are attempting to open a document, you'll normally find yourself staring at the Open dialog box. Use the controls in the dialog box to locate the file you think is corrupted, then click the down arrow at the right of the Open button. In the resulting options, choose Open and Repair.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3798) 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: Determining if a Document is Corrupt.

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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