Word starts more or less okay, but then it begins to misbehave: I get either long periods of nonresponse between intervals of normal behavior, or an unexpected quitsometimes with an error message, sometimes without. I'm really not enjoying this.
Your Normal template might well have become corrupted. Quit Word if it's running, navigate to the ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data folder (for Word 2004) or the /Applications/Microsoft Office X/Templates folder (for Word X), rename Normal to another name (for example, BadNormal), and then start Word again. If Word runs stably and responsively, you've nailed the problem.
If your old Normal template contains code or customizations that you want to keep, choose Tools » Macro » Macros, click the Organizer button, and use the four tabs of the Organizer dialog box to copy the styles, AutoText entries, toolbars, and macro project items from your old Normal template (BadNormal) to the new Normal template. After you close the Organizer dialog box, Shift-click the File menu and choose Save All, and then save your Normal template if Word prompts you to do so.
Beware When Page Numbering Goes Haywire
The page numbering in my document has gone nuts. Help!
Red flag! This usually means that the document has become corrupted. Recover it immediately as follows:
Choose File » Save As and save a copy of the document under a new name (rather than overwriting the current version with any outstanding unsaved changes). This is your primary backup of the document, but you should also save the document in other formats (as described in the rest of this list) in case this document turns out to be too corrupted to use.
Choose File » Save as Web Page, make sure the "Save entire file into HTML" option is selected (rather than the "Save only display information into HTML" option, which dispenses with non-display items such as headers and footnotes), and then click the Save button. This HTML version of the document contains almost all the contents of the Word document and is saved in a stable format.
With the document still open, choose Edit » Select All, hold down Shift, and press to deselect the last paragraph mark in the document. (The last paragraph mark is the default section break, which contains the master formatting table for the document.) Press +C to copy the selection, and then press +N to create a new blank document. Press +V to paste in what you copied, press +S to save the document as a backup, and then press +W to close the document.
Now reopen the document you saved in Step 1 and see if it is usable. If not, use the document you saved in Step 3 instead. If this document too proves corrupted, use the HTML document you saved in Step 2 as the last resort for re-creating the document.
OpenOffice.org (free from
http://www.openoffice.org) is very good at opening corrupt Word documents and recovering their contents.