Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Phantom Menace in Microsoft Word

Sunday afternoon I thought I was ready to submit the final version of a book to Lightning Source for printing. I had read, re-read, and re-re-read until my eyes were bulging and blurry.

I knew it wasn't perfect (no book ever is), but I decided that it was good enough, and knew that it was better than many other books.

I tapped a few keys to produce a PDF from my Microsoft Word document -- the same procedure I'd previously done at least 100 times.

This time I had a surprise. And not a happy one.

When I examined the PDF, there was a BLANK PAGE inserted after page 6.

Page 7 was marked as page 8, and the total page count showed 433 pages instead of the proper 432.

I looked at the Word doc again. It seemed perfectly normal. There was no sign of the phantom page. The last page was page 432 as it should be.

I produced a few more PDFs with the same result. I rebooted and got the same result.

I realized that my brain was too wilted to be productive, and decided to try again Monday morning.

Monday morning, after a good rest, I again tried to find where the phantom invasion originated.

I worked two hours and gave up. In desperation, I decided to invest 50 bucks and call Microsoft.

I spent nearly two hours on the phone, with no solution. The Micro-Man said he'd call me back about four hours later.

He did, and he had found what generated the phantom page.

For some unknown reason, one of my pages had an extra page break in its formatting.

For some unknown reason, the extra page was invisible in Word, but showed up in a PDF or if I printed a few pages.

When I eliminated the extra break, the phantom was eradicated.

The Force was with me. I hope it will be with you.



  1. Cool posting. VERY cool Photoshopping. The Force is with you.

  2. This would have been my guess, too. Word does weird things with formatting. Sometimes I have to take out page breaks in WORD to make the manuscript work with Adobe.

    It will do weird things when the file becomes corrupt, too. I like to use the document map a lot and that causes problems, too.

  3. Open Office seems to avoid these problems.

  4. I am doing the same thing for my work. Sometimes I get rid of the phantom page, but then it moves itself to a new spot!!

  5. OK I think I have this figured out. When making books you sometimes choose to have sections start on an odd page. So if an old section ends on an odd page and then you have a new section, it will start on the next odd page and insert a phantom even page. See how much smarter Microsoft Word is than you?!?