Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Size Limit for Documents.

Size Limit for Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 24, 2015)

2

Tyler has a document that contains quite a bit of information, and he keeps adding to it regularly. The document is now over 4,000 pages in length. The length has concerned him a bit, so he thought about breaking it up into subdocuments. However, doing so concerns Tyler, as he's read all sorts of horror stories about working with subdocuments. He wonders if there is a limit on how large his document can get before he starts having problems crop up.

The answer depends on the complexity of the documents you are using, and page count isn't a "big deal" when it comes to complexity. The official decree from Microsoft is that documents have a size limit of 32 MB for the text content:

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=211489

Note, as well, that the size limit for documents containing all content (such as graphics, embedded content, etc.) is 512 MB. Once a document is loaded into your system, Word also requires additional file storage space on your hard drive for the use of temporary files. (For this reason you'll want to make sure that wherever you are saving your document has plenty of free storage space.)

Of course, you may start seeing poor performance with large documents depending on other factors, such as the amount of memory in your system, how complex the document is, whether it is stored on a network or not, etc. Each document is going to be rather unique in this regard.

It is a good idea to pay attention to things like load time and save time. In other words, how long does it take to load and save your document? If you notice that these are getting longer and longer, you may want to consider breaking up your document into smaller logical units, such as chapters or sections. Put each chapter or section in its own file, and then work with those individual files.

It is true that in earlier versions of Word (those before Word 2007) the subdocument and master document capabilities were woefully inadequate and problematic. However, they have been greatly improved in the most recent versions of the program and may be worth examining again as a way of dealing with your large documents. Just remember, it is always a good rule of thumb to make sure that you do all your edits within the subdocuments themselves, not within the subdocuments as they are displayed in the master document. You should only edit the master document directly when you want to change something that will affect printing the entire master document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (734) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Size Limit for Documents.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

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What is six more than 8?

2017-04-12 15:24:48

Joe Bongiorno

Breaking the document into chapters is probably what I'm going to do, as I'm currently at the 511mb limit, and then I'll re-join them in PDF. I don't want to degrade the quality of the images, as they require high ppi/dpi sizes to print properly in a book, which is the purpose of the document. So, compressing them is out of the question, and having to go back and re-adjust the resolution of each one is something that I don't have time for, particularly as the book has a lot of images. So, just wanted to say thank you for the tip! I was wondering how to proceed, and now I know!


2016-05-19 22:34:21

Charles Kenyon

"The jury is in: The Master Document feature in Word 2010 remains word processing's answer to Conan the Destroyer. Use it only if you enjoy pain and frustration." Microsoft Word 2010 Bible by Herb Tyson, MVP. "Since its inception, the Master Documents feature has been a bit quirky and buggy, and that fact hasn't changed with Word 2010, unfortunately." by Faithe Wempen, p. 681 This comment has been updated without change (other than the year) in Microsoft Word 2013 In Depth and Microsoft Word 2016 In Depth.


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