Pelli Lab

Working around bugs in Microsoft Word

Denis Pelli
Psychology and Neural Science, New York University

Word 2004 (included in Microsoft Office 2004) has significant improvements in commenting, comparing drafts, and in the formatting palette, and adds a new compatibility checker, making it generally preferable to Word X (included in Microsoft Office X). We've encountered several bugs, but there are work-arounds. We're using the latest: Microsoft Word 2004 (version 11.1) and Mac OS X 10.3.6. We've reported all the bugs below to the newsgroup.

Word 2004 renders some images poorly, e.g. word2004renderingbugs.doc. The images look bad on screen and on paper, even though the same file is fine in Word X. The main symptom is that some GIF images appear blank. Opening (double-click) and closing the image in Word's picture editor may help. Reported 18 November 2004. Discussion in newsgroup. Added further examples contributed by William Jenks. 12 December 2004. Steve Wilson tells me that these problems affect most or all of the applications in Office 2004: PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. 15 December 2004. Microsoft is looking into it.

Steve Wilson at Synergy Software (producers of Kaleidagraph) finds that these rendering problems affect most or all of the applications in Office 2004: PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. "The problem is strange in that it doesn't happen for every plot that I paste into Office. Here are 3 different ways, from easiest to hardest, to export plots from Kaleidagraph into Office 2004, any one which might work around the rendering problem:
1. Switch back to Office X, which doesn't have this problem.
2. Use the Copy Graph command to copy a PICT image to the Clipboard, using the PostScript PICT option instead of High Resolution.
3. Use the Copy Graph command to copy a PICT image to the Clipboard, selecting either the PostScript PICT or High Resolution option. Paste the image into the Preview application that comes with OS X. Use the Export command to save the image in a PDF format." 15 December 2004.

Word misprints a merged cell in a table at the top of a column, e.g. WordTableBug.doc. This two-column Word document contains four identical tables. Microsoft Word (2004 and X as well) displays them correctly on the screen, but, as shown below, misprints the upper right table when printing it, cutting off the bottom of the “a”, which is in a merged cell. The misprint is apparent in the PDF, e.g. WordTableBug.pdf, and in the Word 2004 Print Preview. The problem seems to be specific to merged cells in tables that appear at the top of a column other than the first. 

This bug is sneaky. Any small change to a document that prints perfectly may change where the columns break, causing a perfectly good table to misprint because it now happens to be at the top of a column. Tested with Word 2004 version 11.1, Word X service release 1, and Mac OS X 10.3.6. Reported 4 December 2004. Confirmed by newsgroup.

Word document corruption and how to "uncorrupt". Some of our Word documents were tricky to print to PDF, e.g. WordMultiplePrintBug.doc. We just discovered that something in this document is "corrupted", probably the section break. Applying the procedure described at the MVP site to “uncorrupt” a Word file makes the problem go away. Yay. [All versions of Word print this document in two parts. If you ask Word to create a PDF of the whole document (by printing to Adobe PDF or by clicking Save as PDF in the Print Dialog box), Word treats the two parts as separate documents, and creates a PDF for page 1, and another PDF for the rest, pages 2-xx. This wouldn't be so bad except that the Adobe PDF “printer” saves both files with the same name, so the second one silently replaces the first.] 19 November 2004. Discussion in newsgroup.

? Word 2004 may insist on using the default printer. [Another user could not confirm this bug. See fine print below.] Word 2004 assumes that you've used System Preferences to set Print & Fax:Selected printer in Print Dialog: to "Last printer used". In that case Word 2004 works fine. However, if you instead selected a particular printer in System Prefences, then the Word 2004 print dialog misleadingly allows you to select a printer other than that default, but subsequently ignores your new selection and prints to the default printer anyway. The work-around is to use System Preferences to set the default printer to "Last printer used", as Word 2004 assumes. (Word X works correctly with any setting.) Thanks to Paul Fan for figuring this one out, and to Ken Anderson for recommending the very helpful Printer Setup Repair utility.) [••To experience this problem you must go to System Preferences and set "Print & Fax:Selected printer:" to a specific printer instead of the usual "Last printer used" setting. Basically, Mac OS X offers two user-interface modes for printing. In the usual "Last printer used" mode the "default printer" follows your lead; it changes every time you use a new printer. The alternative is to have a stable default. In that case you can temporarily override the default, but, the next time you print, it reverts to the pre-existing default. Word 2004 fails to temporarily override the fixed default.
••Denis, That's exactly our what we've done, and it is working properly. We have two printers in our lab: a Lexmark C710 and an HP 2300DN; The default printer set in "Print & Fax:Selected printer:" is the 2300DN. Any new print request defaults to the 2300, regardless of the last printer used. If we want to print to the C710, we select it from the print dialog printer pop-up menu and the job will print to the C710. The next print request will default back to the 2300 as it should. Something is wacky with your system since it works properly in ours.-- Ron Walcik, Killeen, Texas,
] Reported 18 November 2004. Discussion in newsgroup.

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