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: Unable to Set Margins in a Document.

Unable to Set Margins in a Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 25, 2016)

2

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:

  1. Open the problem document.
  2. Create a brand new, blank document.
  3. In the new document, set the margins the way you want them to appear.
  4. In the problem document, press Ctrl+A to select the entire document.
  5. Hold down the Shift key as you press the Left Arrow. This "unselects" the final paragraph marker in the document. (You should have everything in the document selected except the final paragraph marker.) If you have the display of non-printing characters turned off, you may not actually see that the final paragraph marker was unselected, but it was.
  6. Press Ctrl+C. The document (minus the final paragraph marker) is copied to the Clipboard.
  7. Switch to the new document.
  8. Press Ctrl+V. The text from the old document is pasted in the new document.
  9. Close all the documents.

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, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Unable to Set Margins in a Document.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Converting From Numbers to Text

If you have a range of numeric values in your worksheet, you may want to change them from numbers to text values. Here's how ...

Discover More

Renaming a Style

Styles are invaluable when it comes to applying consistent formatting in and across documents. If you need to rename a style ...

Discover More

Using Excel for Timing

Excel allows you to store times in a worksheet. If you want to use Excel to time certain events, there are a couple of ways ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Quickly Displaying Formatting Specs

It's easy to apply formatting to text, but often hard (after the fact) to know exactly what was done. If you often need to ...

Discover More

Formatting Differences between Word Versions

Create a document in one version of Word on one machine and then open that document in a different version of Word on a ...

Discover More

Noting Formatting Inconsistencies

When you create a document, Word is constantly checking behind the scenes to make sure that what you type makes sense. Tools ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 2?

2016-04-25 09:50:24

Eileen Lis

We've also found in our office that this can also happen when columns are being used somewhere in the document. The margins are too narrow for the columns.


2013-10-12 21:39:17

sheila mcinnes

Does this mess up Styles?


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.