MVP John McGhie spends his days consulting as a Document Engineer and many of his evenings answering questions in the Microsoft Answers forums. His specialty is long and complex documents done mostly in Microsoft Word.
In one of his recent answers he stated:
It is some years since I lost a document to “corruption” in Word for Mac. Come to think of it, I have probably “never” completely lost one.
I use a few simple techniques that avoid corruption. I do very long ( greater than 5,000 pages) very complex documents in Word for a living, so I had to learn these techniques.
This is his advice (slightly edited for clarity):
- Keep Microsoft Office up to date. Use Help –> Check for Updates, and set that to check automatically for updates. Word will simply not run on OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) without all its updates.
- Never use Track Changes. Just never, for anything. Instead, use Compare Documents (found under Tools menu –> Track Changes –> Compare Documents…). It gives you the same result, but won’t corrupt the document.
- Never use direct formatting, for anything. Use View menu –> Styles for all formatting.
- Never use Drag-and-drop editing. Use “Cut” and “Paste” instead. I am one of the worst offenders here: Drag-and-drop is so tempting. But it is fatal!
- Never change format between .doc and .docx. Change any .doc you see to .docx and leave it that way. Some people keep repeating the myth that .doc and .docx are equivalent. They are not, and never were! The .doc format is incapable of describing or storing the things a .docx file can contain. Each time you downgrade to .doc, you are ripping out or downgrading the information inside. There’s no need for .doc any more. And they’re fragile! They break constantly! Anyone who can read .doc can also read .docx, so send them that. Ensure you include the file extension on the end, and the recipient will usually never know you’ve sent a .docx.
John also contributes to the The Word MVP Site, which is maintained by Microsoft Word experts and a great resource for using Word to its fullest potential and troubleshooting. It includes a lengthy Mac-specific section as well.
Thanks, John, for allowing me to repost your advice here. It sounds simple but the best solutions are often simple and straight-forward.