A Microsoft Word document may not open for multiple reasons. You may see data partially or nothing at all. If you face a similar problem, this post will guide you to either open or partially recover data from damaged documents in Word. When we say damaged document, it could be a file that doesn’t open at all or opens with issues within the document. Sometimes you may see garbage, while at other times, you may see binary digits inside it.
How to repair a corrupted Word file
Follow these suggestions to try and repair a corrupt Word file to an extent. You can apply these if there is a layout issue, a Word document stuck on opening, unreadable characters, an error message while opening the document, and so on.
- Open the damaged document in draft mode.
- Use the “Recover Text from Any File” converter.
- Change the template that is used by the document.
- Start Word using default settings
- Force Word to try to repair a file
- Save Partially opened the file in Rich Text Format.
- Switch the document view to remove the damaged content
You do not need admin permission to resolve this.
1] Open the damaged document in draft mode
- Open Word, select the Blank Document. Then go to the View Tab > Drafts in the view group.
- Click on the File menu, and click on Options and navigate to Advanced options.
- Scroll to locate Show document content section, and select Use draft font in Draft and Outline views
- Close Word
- Double click the damaged Word document to open it.
Word will open the problematic document in drafts mode and use the draft font instead of the document’s font. So if the problem is because of the fonts, it will now be visible. You can then copy the content, and paste it into a new document, and save it.
2] Use the “Recover Text from Any File” converter
Word offers a recovery tool that can extract or recover text from any file. While it will result in formatting loss, images, and drawing objects, it still works if the word file is text-heavy. Recovery also includes field text, headers, footers, footnotes, and endnotes.
- Open Word, and then click on the Browse option
- In the file dialogue box, next to the file name text box, click on the drop-down menu
- locate and select Recover Text from Any File
- Select the document from which you want to recover the text.
- Select Open.
After the document is recovered, you may see some binary text data which were not converted. It primarily recovers text so that you can delete anything else.
3] Change the template that is used by the document
When you create a new document, it uses a default template. There is possible corruption in the default template, causing the issue, or the template is not attached to the document. Use this when either Word document doesn’t load or is stuck there, or it shows blank.
- Double click the damaged file, and open it.
- If it opens, then click on File > Options > Add-Ins
- In the Manage box, select Templates and click on Go.
- It will open the Templates and Add-ins window.
- If you notice this as Normal, then we need to rename the template file and reattach it. Else Skip to 9
- If it’s Normal, then close Word
- Navigate to
- Locate the Normal.dotm file, and rename it to something else—close Word.
- Open Word again, and navigate to File > Options > Add-Ins > Templates
- Notice that a new Normal.dotm file is again created. Select it, and click on the Attach button.
- Open the Word File, and it should work fine.
4] Start Word using default settings
Users could force the word to start with default settings if it was modified to do it differently. It has to do something with the existing Normal.dotm template, and if you restart the Word app with the forced option, it will automatically.
- Make sure all Word files and the Word application is closed.
- Open the Run prompt (Win +R)
winword.exe /aand press the Enter key.
- Once Word opens, click File > Browse and open the damaged file.
- If the problem was with the settings, then the file should open normally.
5] Force Word to try to repair a file
Like recovering text from any file option, Word offers the Open and Repair feature while opening any document.
- Open Word application, and click File, and then on Browse option
- Click on the down arrow next to the Open button, and select Open and Repair.
- Then select the file, and click on the Open button.
- Word Application will attempt to repair the file and then open it if it works.
6] Save Partially opened the file in Rich Text Format
If the damaged document opens up partially, Microsoft advises saving it in RTF format using the Save as option. Click on File > Save As > Browser, select the Rich Text Format from the dropdown next to the text box, and save it. Once done, open the saved RTF file with the Word application.
You can also choose to save it HTML or Text file to view the content of the file.
7] Switch the document view to remove the damaged content
We talked about the draft mode as the first method. Similar to this, Word offers Web Layout, Read Mode, Outline. Try to switch to those modes. Once done, scroll to the point after which you cannot see the document or make any sense. Remove those data.
Next, on the View tab in the Document Views group, select Print Layout. If the document continues to appear to be truncated, continue to switch views and delete content until the document no longer appears truncated in the Print Layout view. Save the document under a new name, and it should help you recover some data.
TIP: You can also use a free Microsoft Word Repair Tool and see if that works for you.
I hope the post was exhaustive enough to give you multiple ways to troubleshoot damaged documents in the application.