The Word Document Cannot be Opened Because There Are Problems with the Contents Problem

I got an urgent request last weekend about a peculiar Word problem. The user said that he had been working on a word document all day until suddenly the document could not be opened. The error message was The file filname.docx cannot be opened because there are problems with the contents. If you click on the Details button, you can see the detailed error message:

Unspecified error

Location: Part: /word/document.xml, Line: 2, Column: 0

Google research shows that this is a common problem and that it is a bug that Microsoft has not fixed yet. Some people have suggested to fix the problem manually using a text editor. This approach is not very practical because you have to be familiar with the XML document format for Word in order to do it. Please follow this link if you are interested in this fix. I tried it, but I could not figure out what to modify. Thus, my search for a fix continued.

Like I said before, this problem was common, so I found quite a few tips. One tip suggested using Word 2003 with the compatibility pack to open the document. Unfortunately, this did not work for me either. I then tried using different programs to open the document. A program that can open the document without the slightest problem is Wordpad on Windows 7. It opened the document, and almost all contents were intact except  the comments were gone and some formatting was changed. This solution was good, but it was not perfect.

I remembered one user had praised the Open Office’s ability to open the new .docx Word document and retain the original formatting. I decided to give it a try. The current version of Open Office is 3.2.1 and is available for free through I installed the whole suite and used the Writer to open the bogus document. The program opened the document without any problem, and unlike Wordpad, all contents were recovered, including the comments and formatting. It’s amazing that a 3rd party free software can handle the Word documents better than the original Word. Anyway, next time you have a problem opening a Word document, try Writer in the OpenOffice suite.