Avoid Document Corruption and Bloating in Microsoft Word


In a previous article, we tell you how to recover a document from corruption or near-corruption. Please read it first.

Here, we hope to provide some tips on avoiding the corruption in the first place. In order for this article to make sense, you might first want to read the other one.

Tip: A newsgroup reader (Dave Hazel) reported that repagination would go into a never-ending loop and that saving as RTF resolved it. Later he found that this removed the Save Picture Preview in the Properties of his document, so he turned it back on and the problem recurred. You may want to check (or rather UNcheck) this in your document properties by choosing File Properties and unchecking it.

Save Preview Picture

A very small setting under File Properties can considerably increase file size. Uncheck Save Preview Picture.

Drawing Objects

If you must use Microsoft Office drawing tools, create your drawings in PowerPoint. Use one slide for each drawing. When the drawing is complete, hit Ctrl+A, group the objects using the Draw Group menu options. After grouping, copy the object, then go to Word and hit Edit Paste special, and choose Picture (Enhanced Metafile). For some reason, Word just can't seem to keep track of lots of drawing objects. This way, you can save the PowerPoint presentation for editing of the drawing objects you create. As long as you don't choose Paste Link, there is no need to send the presentation with your document. Choosing Enhanced Metafile creates a nice image that's not too big electronically in size.

Careful Table Usage

If you must use tables for your layout-and sometimes they're invaluable-then be sure to create them "cleanly". What I mean by that is this... determine a layout for your tables before you begin creating your document. Rather than merging and unmerging, etc., while you build your tables, try to find a nice clean way to make them. It seems as if as soon as you begin merging and unmerging cells in tables, they just get out of hand. If you, for instance, create a table layout where you merge some cells, then create a new row based off that, and then split some cells, then a new row and merge...Word seems to get lost after while. Better that you should create a bunch of the same rows, and merge or split them, than to create new rows based on previously merged and/or split rows. Does this make sense? Regardless, if you use lots of tables, it will NEVER hurt to save your file as RTF from time to time as you work on it. Then reopen and save again as a DOC file.

Picture Sizes

One of the most common causes of file bloating is inserting pictures that are just plain too large electronically. I'm no hardware geek, but I know there's settings on digital cameras for resolution and, the higher the resolution, the higher the electronic size. However, there are image programs out there capable of compressing images, and still retaining a very good quality. Try Irfanview. Heck, it'll even let you batch compress, rename-all kinds of cool tools-and best of all, it's FREE.

Screen Captures

Screen captures can be big, too. At the bottom of every article (in my web footer here), I mention SnagIt by TechSmith. They do not pay me for that! I mention their product because it far exceeds any other screen capture program I've used. If you use Windows Print Screen button, you get a bitmap (BMP). These are often much larger in size than something like SnagIt will produce, but SnagIt even lets you capture at different resolutions, capture it right to the clipboard, add a certain amount of drawing objects (arrows, text, etc.), and even capture a lot of things you can't capture when you hit the Windows Print Screen button. That's also how I capture the dropped-down menus in all my articles.

I just tested, and Windows Print Screen gave me a 117KB image. SnagIt gave me a 104KB. It may not seem like much, but when you use it as much as I do, it sure adds up! I'm also taking my SnagIt screenshots at a whopping 1200 DPI. I have no idea what the DPI is on a Windows screen capture. 

Embedded and Linked Objects

People want to embed or link a whole bunch of objects. Time to get real. No application can handle that kind of communication, so don't be upset when Word can't handle it either. I'm not talking about an Excel spreadsheet or two. I'm talking about where you try to link an Excel file from 15 different worksheets in it. I assume a document of this proportion is important. So take the time to do it right. In this particular instance, I would automate the process of getting the items from Excel into Word using automation. You can hire me or someone like me to do that for you. Or you can work it out yourself. Click here for the VBA code that can get you started.

Like many of the articles here, this one is likely a work in process. Check back if this topic interests you!