“The (Microsoft) Office Open XML file (name of file) cannot be opened because there are problems with the content”
This was the message that greeted me this morning when I tried to open one of my word .docx files in Microsoft 2007. And this is a blogpost about what to do if this happens to – it suggests a number of different approaches in effort to get your damaged (by Microsoft) files.
IF you hit the details button – the dialog box will proceed will say something like “Location: Part /word/document.xml, Line 2, Column: 984619″
- Check your backup – how recent is it and is it worth going back to it
- Try the Open and Repair in the Word open dialog box
- Try copying the corrupted file, rename to have the .zip extension. Extract damaged file, try to edit out the bad part of the file. Save corrected file back to the .zip file – and then rename back to .docx. If it still won’t open, try number 2 on this modified file
- Download and install OpenOffice – open the damaged file and your last good backup – and play “spot the difference” by cutting and pasting the data back. Memory will serve you well – and if you have broken the original document up in sections – you can save time by splicing good versions of the document together from previous backups.You will have to re-impose your formatting and styles if you want the new stuff to match your old stuff. There’s no reason in this process. Sometime when click a sentence and hit the style option – it will strip the text of ALL the manual formatting you might have done – forcing you to reformat it again. Other times when you apply number styles you will find your numbering begins at 51 rather than 1. You will have to fix that manually too – by right-clicking and restart at one. The cut and paste will from OpenOffice to MS Word will NOT take any embedded graphics – you will have to copy and paste each on individual. All in all this is soul destroying process – dependent on the length of document, density of images. So sit back get a beer and remind yourself that at least you not having to type it all in again, and remember what it was you typed – 1hr, 2hr, 1day, 2day, 1week ago….
- Jump on your girlfriends laptop – because you recall giving her a copy to proof-read – and you think that might be more recent than your backup is
There are number of ways to aviod this happening to you again.
- Microsoft products by their design cannot be relied on, and will inevitably corrupt data. This is given fact with Microsoft products. Grow-up and accept this fact. Therefore you MUST backup your most important files every day at least or hourly. A simple Save-As every 1hr is the ONLY way really. So the next time you watch some video extoling why there products are better than someone elses – remember the day you read this blogpost.
- Do not use the XML docx format – it can’t be relied on, and isn’t recognised by any previous version of Word anyway. Your printer or publisher is probably using Word 2! Instead use the old Word6/97 format. This is an older format which is more mature and can be recognised by many different wordprocessors other than MS Word.
- Never ever create very long documents in Word. It simply can’t cope. Not least because you will get increasingly annoyed by the auto-save feature which interupts your work – additionally repagination happens every 5 seconds for even simple operations such as cut & paste or hitting the undo button. One large flat .docx file has to be regarded as a high risk strategy. Instead resolve to save your large word files as series of files – so that if one does get corrupted you only have lost that section – not the entire file. Oh, and remember to save those every 1hr as well. By the end of this process you will have many, many files. So it goes. Remember that before your document was corrupted seeing the words “Not Responding” in Word was an hourly event – when you hoped it wasn’t going to crash – and offer you an auto-recovery file. Any word-processor that needs an auto-recovery feature must be by definition not very reliable.
- Never embed graphics into word files – because if you do have file corruption they will be lost – and probably none retrivable. You much better of putting saving the file as an independent graphic file – and make referrence to it in the document like [chapter21-this-is-my-image-file.jpg]. If your working for a big publisher they will demand this anyway….
- Where possible resolve never to use a Microsoft Product again. Go out and buy a Mac even though it has huge “tax” on it – and use OpenOffice. OpenOffice can open damaged Microsoft Word files even when Microsoft Word cannot.