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Microsoft KB Archive/36459

From BetaArchive Wiki

Column of Letters Displays Along Left Side Of WinWord Screen


The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Word for Windows, versions 1.0, 1.1, 1.1a, 2.0, 2.0a, 2.0a-CD, 2.0b, 2.0c, 6.0, 6.0a, 6.0c


When you are trying to set up columns in Word for Windows, a string of characters may display along the left side of the screen after you use the Section command. This effect occurs if the right-indent marker on the ruler is positioned left of the left-indent and first-line-indent markers.

This problem occurs most frequently when setting up snaking columns. If you adjust the right indent to the desired column width before you apply the column formatting with the Section command, the resulting right indent remains in effect after you set up the columns. This procedure results in a narrower column than expected, and the column often has a negative width that produces the long line of characters along the left side of the screen.

To work around the problem, select the entire problem area, and choose one of the following methods.

  1. Press CTRL+X (CTRL+Q in Word for Windows 2.0 or 6.0) to clear the paragraph formatting of the paragraph. This method also resets the tab- stop settings to be the defaults and resets the left indent and first-line indent to zero. If you have set up special tabs or indents that need to be retained, you should use method Number 2.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key, and scroll to the left until the right- indent marker appears in the negative portion of the ruler. Drag the right-indent marker to the right until it lines up with the vertical dotted line that indicates the position of the right margin or the right edge of a column.


For example, if you are working on a document that has 1.25-inch left and right margins. The right indent would then coincide with the 6-inch mark on the ruler. If your goal was to create two 2.5-inch-wide columns with 1-inch-wide spacing between the two, then the right- indent marker should remain at the 6-inch ruler mark and the Division Layout or Section command should be used to indicate two columns with 1-inch spacing. This is the correct method.

The incorrect method is to first adjust the right-indent marker to the column width of 2.5 inches on the ruler (yielding an indent of 3.5 inches left of the right margin), and then to choose the same Section settings. The resulting margin would coincide with the 2.5-inch position on the ruler, but the text would remain indented 3.5 inches from this position, corresponding to a column width of -1 inch. Under such circumstances, there is no horizontal space available for the text, and the program does its best by placing the characters in a column of single-character width.

Additional query words: winword 1.x 2.0 word6 6.0 winword2

Keywords : kbformat
Issue type :
Technology :

Last Reviewed: November 4, 2000
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