I had just finished a children’s nonfiction manuscript on Richard the Lionheart the other day when Word burped. It was awful. My system locked up, Word wouldn’t respond, and after waiting several minutes (just to make sure), I finally pushed the button… and prepared to cry. To make matters worse, I hadn’t made a backup. Unfortunately, I don’t always practice what I preach. 

After rebooting, Word wouldn’t open the file. I tried both of Word’s repair options:

  • In the Open dialog, choose Recover Text From Any File in the Files As Type control.
  • In the Open dialog, choose Open and Repair from the Open button’s dropdown options.

Neither worked and I was gloomy. I had a hard copy, but reentering the entire manuscript would take time. I’m a fast typist, but not that fast.

On a lark, I opened the doc file in WordPad. All of the text was there. The formatting and bookmarks were gone. There wasn’t enough formatting to care about and the footnote text was still there and in order, but the numbers were gone—replaced by underscore characters. I spent a few hours renumbering all the footnotes and was fine.

I read about corruption problems in Office documents, but frankly, I’ve never suffered much from it. This was my first experiences with Word corruption.

I’d like to hear your corruption horror stories and how you recovered. Was there a better route than I chose? I feel fortunate to tell the truth. All I had to do was recenter some text and renumber the footnotes. It could’ve been so much worse.