Dealing with Word Document Formatting Problems

Many times I receive MS Word documents which are incredibly poorly formatted. Text, tables and graphics are all over the place and small frames abound in which portions of the text are located. This is not good but typical because most people have never had any real training. It provides no continuity and the frames may extend outside the normal boundaries of the page frame. This is a real problem when using the document in OpenOffice and attempting to reformat the document into a usable condition.

Tables are a special problem. In some cases the contents of the table extend past the visible area allowed by the frame in which the table has been created.

To resolve this, create a new document, create a table with the appropriate number of columns and rows, and copy the contents of the original table from the old document to the new one. Reformatting the old document will take more time than it is worth. The text outside the table can be copied separately.

  1. Open the original document.
  2. Go to the Menu Bar => Edit=>Changes and remove any checkmarks from “Change” and “Show.”
  3. Create a new document. Save it in an appropriate folder.
  4. Copy the title information at the top of the original document, if any, and paste into the new document.
  5. Below the heading content in the new document, create a new table.
  6. In the old doc, click on the table.
  7. Starting in the upper left table cell, mark as much of the table as you can see.
  8. Right click on the marked area and choose “cut.” What you have marked should disappear and what you could not see before should be displayed. You will still see the empty table cells from which the previous material was cut. The reason to cut the data is to see the data you could not see before. Do not Save the old doc. When finished with this procedure you can use the “Undo” button on the toolbar to get back to the original state of the old doc; or you can just close the doc and choose not to save it when it tells you there are changes.
  9. In the new document, right click on the upper left cell of the table you created and choose “paste.”
  10. The data should be pasted into the table and fill up multiple table rows.
  11. Go back to the old doc and select the remaining table data.
  12. In the new doc, paste the next set of data into the first blank cell below the previously pasted data.
  13. When completed be sure to save the new document.

You can then reformat the cells by changing fonts or whatever else you need to do, but at this point you are essentially done with moving the table to the new document and formatting it in a much more usable way.

Leave a Reply