Word spacing screwed up by saving on faulty flash drive?
February 22, 2012 7:52 AM   Subscribe

When I save MS Word docs, a lot of my spacings between words are being eliminated. In just about every sentence, it happens at least once! To be clear, instead of something like "and the", it will say "andthe". Could it be a faulty flash drive?


When I'm working on a document and I save it, the formatting doesn't instantly change. It only changes after I've closed it and then re-opened it.

It happens even when I don't remove the flash drive. That is, I can save the document, close it, and then immediately re-open it, and it will have the spacing problems. (Thus the problems don't result from improperly removing the flash drive.)

It happens no matter which computer I use; so I doubt think it's a problem with all the computers.

For these reasons, I think it's the flash drive. My main question, then, is whether it is common for flash drives to "go wacky" when they get old (this one is about three years old). If so, is it possible to fix them, or should they just be tossed in the garbage?
posted by Eiwalker to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Before blaming the flash drive, I'd check something else: check what FORMAT you're saving the file in. In other words: maybe you're working in one version of Word, and inadvertently saving it in another version of word; i.e., you're working in Word 2010 but saving it in 2003. Or maybe you're working in Word but inadvertenly saving it as a text file.

That's also something that could play with the formatting -- and you wouldn't necessarily catch it unless you closed and re-opened the file as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention: I was doing this as well and it took me a while to figure out; I had a new computer and was working on older documents in Word 2010, but they'd save in Word 2003; and in doing so, they'd lose some of the formatting I'd set up in Word 2010. It looked fine when I saved it, but when I opened the document again that's when I saw the changes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on February 22, 2012

Best answer: This is a known bug in Word, not with your flash drive - here's an older support doc on the subject, and (anecdotally) it still happens, by which I mean I experienced the exact same thing when transferring a file from Word a few days ago.

That doesn't really help as far as a fix, mind you. Is it possible to not use Word, or to write in plain text (I always do this -- it makes it SO MUCH EASIER in the long run)?
posted by dekathelon at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree about the formatting. It seems very unlikely that a faulty flash drive would so selectively garble your document. Have you tried selecting everything in the file, copying it, then pasting it into a brand new Word document?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:01 AM on February 22, 2012

Just wondering, but if it is happening every line or so, maybe you have some soft carriage returns in there for some reason, that are eliminated in the save. This would cause this to happen every 10-15 words on average, but only for two words in each case.

What do the ends of the lines look like when you turn on the 'show formatting' button?
posted by carter at 8:30 AM on February 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments so far.

One that is really interesting is dekathelon's link. I always "save-as", so I'm not opening one year of file type and then trying to save that file as another year's file type. Rather, I'm always creating a new file to exist side by side the previous version. Nevertheless, I am using Word 2007 on one computer and Word 2010 on the others, and those are the years that the link refers to as being the incompatible years. It says, however, that a docx 2010 file opened with Word 2007 will cause the errors. I, however, get the errors even if I save as a docx 2010 file and then open with Word 2010. Could it be that the formatting of my documents is already in some sense screwed up because of the old history of using different versions of Word?

As for RonButNotStupid's suggestion, maybe this will help, although just now when I copied and pasted a document's text onto a blank document, some "oddities" occurred. For instance, in cases where I had centered a given line for emphasis (such as is common in math texts), it makes both that line and some of the paragraphs above and below it all centered and boldfaced, even though originally none of it was in bold.

As for carter's question about what happens when you turn on the "show formatting" button: in the cases where the space between sentences is eliminated, there is nothing. In the cases where there is a space between sentences, one sees the dot as usual. At the end of paragraphs, one sees the carriage return logo, or end of paragraph logo, or whatever it's called.
posted by Eiwalker at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2012

Response by poster: @EmpressCallipygos: I do often open a 2010 docx file with Word 2007, and then save it as a Word 2007 docx file. But I don't work in Word 2010 and, within that program, save as an earlier file type. (I used to. I used to always save in an old version, 97-2003, so that my formatting would be preserved no matter which version of Word I was using; but I quit doing that a few months ago and I'm still having the problems.)
posted by Eiwalker at 8:44 AM on February 22, 2012

This will sound stupid, but works so well I've given up trying to understand it. When opening a 2010 docx file with an older version of word (with the converter installed) you need to open it using Word, not just find the file on the drive and double click it (which will automatically open Word). Please don't ask why, and yes, it makes opening files emailed to a sort of a pain. I have not updated Word because I am cheap.
posted by Classic Diner at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eiwalker: "I am using Word 2007 on one computer and Word 2010 on the others, and those are the years that the link refers to as being the incompatible years. It says, however, that a docx 2010 file opened with Word 2007 will cause the errors."
We have this exact problem at work with documents sent to us that are saved in Word 2010 format, although we are still using Word 2003. The only solution we have been able to come up with (where it matters enough) is to ask the person to send another copy of the file in .doc format.
posted by dg at 2:34 PM on February 22, 2012

I have found a lot of incompatibilities between Word 2010 and Word 2007. I have also found that a lot of functions, such as aligning objects in Word drawings, just don't work in Word 2010.
My solution is always to save in Word 2007 format (.doc) not Word 2010 FORMAT (.docx). This seems to have removed almost all of the problems that I experienced. Despite Microsoft's dire warnings about things that will not be saved properly, I have never found that any formatting or features of the document are lost when I save to doc format.
posted by Susurration at 7:54 PM on February 22, 2012

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