How to sort “Runtime Error” in MS Word?

Microsoft Word is an authoring tool, which is just a fancy word for a text editor. It allows you to write, format and edit any text information without much technical know-how about its functioning. This can be considered as the biggest reason for its popularity.

A runtime error prevents a program from working as designed. The effects can be anything from losing data in a file, appearance of errors, corruption of the file itself or non-functioning feature. It may be caused due to software or a hardware problem. Runtime errors do not cause the program or Windows to stop functioning and this makes them different from stop errors.

Runtime causes include – but obviously are not limited to:

  • Incompatible applications
  • Dearth of memory – a program is getting lesser memory than is required
  • And of course — malware

In Microsoft Word this error is attributed to COM add-ins: nifty little extensions that enhance Word’s functionality; apart from the reasons mentioned above.

How do you fix it?

Word, when it launches, refers to a global template for font settings and paragraph style. You must have noticed that default font Calibri at font size 11 and the new line (enter) usually has more spacing than a sentence wrapping to next line. All of this is implemented by a global template known as Normal.dot.

The first step is to start Word by disabling the add-ins and deleting the global templates. For this we start Word from a command line using a switch ‘a’.

  • Press the windows key and ‘r’ together to bring up a run box. Here type winword /a. /a switch starts Word and prevents add-ins and global templates (including Normal.dot) from being loaded automatically.

Once you have Microsoft Word started, the next phase is to identify whether the problem is being caused by third-party add-ins or global templates. To begin this process:

  • If you are using Office 2003 and earlier, click “Tools” menu and choose “Templates and Add-Ins”.
  • If on later versions, access Word options from Office Button > Word Options. Once here, click on Add-Ins to proceed with disabling of Add-Ins.
  • Locate the Add-In, from the path mentioned beside it.
  • Close word and go to the location from the above step, to delete the add-in.

P.S.: My personal experience says that we can survive and flourish without an add-in and hence it can be safely deleted. If you are still squeamish about deleting an Add-In, simply move the add-ins — one at a time — from the located folder.

  • Start Microsoft Word as you normally would, to verify if the problem has been resolved.

Global template files, which define the formatting when a new file is opened, have an equal share in throwing the runtime error. If that is the case, below two methods can help you fix it. If you are not sure of the ‘case’, below methods can be harmlessly followed.
I. Rename the Normal.dot file

  • Open Microsoft Word and and press Ctrl+O to access the File Open window.
  • Click Templates, take a note of the location and exit word completely.
  • Go to the noted location and rename the Normal.dot file to something like Normal.old. Locate the NORMAL.DOT file and rename the file extension (make sure that the extension and not the filename is modified).

II. The second option is to delete the file NORMAL.DOT completely.

  • The absence of a global template file will force Microsoft Word to simply create another.

P.S.: Microsoft Word should be closed before attempting to delete any add-in, or global template. Any other program that is dependent on Microsoft Word like Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook, should be closed out as well.

If the above methods do not fix the error, the last resort is to uninstall Microsoft Word from Control Panel > Programs and Features.

Restart the computer for these changes to take effect and then reinstall Microsoft Word upon a successful restart.

The above methods are more like trial and error methods for resolving a problem. For a better, more accurate results follow this tool for repairing corrupt Word .doc and .docx files.