Taming the Gibberish Beastie in Word Tables

by Louellen Coker on May 8, 2009

Recently, I received a cry for help from one of my colleagues regarding some issues she was having with a Word document she was working on.

Problem:

I’m copying and pasting information in a chart from one Word Document to a new one. The information came across as overlapped and in gibberish as is well-documented in the screen shot below.

Gibberish-Filled Word Table

Gibberish-Filled Word Table

Recommendations:

I have not had the opportunity to encounter this problem directly, so I asked around and here are some of the recommendations we received to fix the problem.

  • Paste the new content into the document as unformatted text (through the Paste Special menu). This process will identify if the new content is retaining some kind of weird formatting from the source document.
  • Paste the new content as is into a new document. If it appears without the gibberish, then there’s a good chance the document is either too large to guarantee stability or something odd is embedded into the original document’s template. If these issues appear to be causing the document ruckus, consider reducing the number of graphics (if possible), splitting the document into smaller working documents, or copy-paste all of hte text into a fresh new document.
  • Close all programs and reboot! 🙂

Solution:

After trying out the recommendations, my colleague determined that the document was just to large to support the information. Rather than breaking the document into smaller working documents or reducing the number of graphics, she took a different, but successful, approach.

She converted the original document to a pdf and added it to the final pdf of her new document as an attachment.

Conclusions:

This goes to show that there is more than one way to achieve your ultimate goal when working with documentation. Have you run across this problem yourself? Let us know in the comments if any of our recommendations worked for you. Did you tame your gibberish beastie in a different way? Let us know about how you did—we’re always on the look out for ways to troubleshoot in Word!

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