A Tale of Spike, Corruption, and Change …

March 12, 2006

A client recently had problems with a Word 2003 document containing tracked changes. The problems were such that I suspected general corruption of the document. One remedy in this situation is to copy everything except the last paragraph mark – which is where the corruption may reside – and paste into a new, blank document.

But – remember – the document contained tracked changes. A simple copy/paste will not preserve the tracking. What to do? SPIKE! Spike, you ask? What the heck is spike?

Spike is a feature in Word (been around for awhile) that allows you to “cut” an item and lay it off on a “spike”, “cut” another item and layer it onto the “spike”, and so on. Like the spike at the cashier’s station in a roadside dive (another story entirely.)

In this case, we can use spike to preserve the tracking. Let’s tackle this problem:

  1. Save the document with corruption issues.
  2. Select the entire document except the last paragraph mark. [You do know how to turn on the non-printing characters, right? If not – see this post. Also, here‘s a quick tip on selecting all except the last paragraph mark.]
  3. Press CTRL + F3. [This activates spike – it will appear the selection has been cut.]
  4. Open or navigate to a new blank document. [You do use a special template with styles, page layout, page numbering, autotext, etc., predefined that serves as your new general purpose blank document, yes? No? Call me. We’ll talk.]
  5. Unload the spike by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + F3. [And there you have it, tracked changes, comments, in a new document, minus that nasty last paragraph marker and any corruption contained therein.]


  • When you close the original file, just say No if you don’t want to save the changes.
  • If you want to continue tracking changes in the file in which you unloaded the spike, double-click TRK found at the middle bottom of the Word window. [This area is known as the Status bar.]

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