Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Unable to Set Margins in a Document.
Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 4, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365
Susie wrote about a problem she was having with setting margins in some documents. In her office, everyone shares documents. In such an environment, it is not unusual to reuse someone else's document, or use an existing document as the basis for a new document. Susie reports that sometimes she tries to change the margins on a document, but that she cannot—the preview area in the Page Setup dialog box doesn't display correctly, and any changes to the controls are ineffectual.
The fact that this is only happening with some documents is an indicator that the problem doesn't lie with Word, but with the documents exhibiting this behavior. More than likely, the document has, in some way, become corrupted. Here is one way to try to "reclaim" your document:
At this point, you should do your work with the new document. You will need to enter headers and footers again, but the document should now work as you expect it to. Once you are satisfied, you can delete the problem 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 (11893) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Unable to Set Margins in a Document.
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