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Word and Excel 2003 Font color display

Posted on 2009-02-17
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have a client who uses Office 2003, and it has all the latest updates.  In both Excel and Word, he changes the font color to blue for different sections.  While he's working, the characters that were blue will suddenly show red, then switch back (sometimes) to blue, and this will go on and on.  It's driving him crazy, and therefore it's driving me crazy.

This is a computer that we just installed a few weeks ago.  He did not have this issue on his old computer, and it's not happening on any of the other computers in his office, just this new one.  It only happens with some shade of blue; if he changes the font to green, yellow, purple, etc it doesn't happen, just to blue.

He's not entirely convinced that this is the case, but in my testing when we print the page having the font color issue to a PDF or to his printer, the font does show blue.  That makes me think there is an Office setting that causes that text to display incorrectly, but I can't find the setting anywhere.  He's the only one working on these documents, so I don't think it's a "track changes" issue, and he doesn't use any conditional formatting.

Any ideas about what settings need to be changed?
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Question by:TheRealPCRob
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by:knoxzoo
ID: 23676575
Update the video drivers, or roll-back to a previous version if the newest version is already installed.  

Swap the sticks of RAM, if there's more than one.  (put stick 1 in the slot where stick two is, etc.)

Let me know if that doesn't do it.
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by:TheRealPCRob
ID: 23676640
Thanks for the reply, knoxzoo.  I will try that, but I won't be at the client's location until Friday.  No offense, but I'm a little skeptical of the RAM or video drivers being the problem just because it's only text he highlights in blue that this happens to.  But anything is worth a shot.

This client is out of town, so I can't just go there at a moment's notice.  Is there any other conditions settings you can think of that I could take a look at while I'm there?  A Microsoft tech support person suggested he look to see if the High Contrast option was selected (it was not) and had the client setup a generic printer as the default printer, which also did not work.

This is baffling to me.
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by:knoxzoo
knoxzoo earned 800 total points
ID: 23683863
Flaky drivers, and flaky RAM, can cause all manner of weirdness.  

As an example, my wife used to play Everquest, before becoming a WoW nut.  One of the nVidia driver updates caused her characters face to alternate between brilliant blue and normal, at random intervals.  Reverting to the older drivers corrected the problem.

In another instance, here at the zoo and only a few months ago. a change of RAM fixed an issue in Excel wherein the highlighting color and the font color would alternate randomly while editing spreadsheets.  It didn't cause any harm, but it was a distraction.  

Everything that happens on that screen goes through RAM and the video subsystem.  Experience has taught me to look there first, then move on, if necessary.
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by:TheRealPCRob
ID: 23684004
Thanks, knoxzoo, I will give that a look.  The system has four Gigs of RAM, so i'll be able to pull them in pairs to see if that's the case.  The drivers issue may be harder to address, but I can uninstall/reinstall, etc.

Thanks, I'll let you know how it works out.
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by:knoxzoo
ID: 23684538
If it's on an XP system, leave it at 2 gigs.  Some motherboards attempt to do tricks with RAM to make more of it available to 32 bit OS's, causing even more random havoc.  3g is as much as I'll put in an XP machine.  
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TheRealPCRob earned 0 total points
ID: 23704739
I apologize that it's taken so long to post a follow up.  knoxzoo, I appreciate the time and effort you've put into this question.  Unfortunately, none of your suggestions have worked.  Replacing RAM in multiple combinations had no effect, and the video driver is the latest (and since it's a new machine, I don't have previous drivers to roll back to.)

The client gave me conflicting information, first telling me that this did not happen on the other computers in his office, then telling me (on Friday) that it did.  He told me that it happened on files he created from scratch, but I have a feeling that his idea of "creating from scratch" is different from mine.  None of my testing showed any problems with newly created files, and I'm going to test the documents that are having this problem on different computers (including my own) to get the straight scoop on that.  I'm also going to have him show me what "creating a new document" (or spreadsheet) means to him; I suspect he's simply re-using an old file to put new information in.  All this leads me to believe that perhaps some of the older files have gotten corrupted somehow.

One interesting thing that happened, though, is I booted the computer into Safe Mode, and when I opened the spreadsheet I'd been using as a test it displayed fine.  I didn't get a chance to play with it a lot, but I did uninstall anti-virus and turned off a few other utilities one-by-one but none of that fixed the problem when booted into normal mode.  I don't know if that would be consistent with a corrupted excel file or not, though.

At this point, I'm going to close the question.  I'd like to award you some points just for the effort, but I'm not sure if I can do that.
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by:knoxzoo
ID: 23714097
Don't worry about the points.  That's not why most of us do this.  

Knowing that it's happening on multiple systems changes the whole thing.  Do a serious, multi-engine malware scan on a couple of the systems.  A key logger may be at work.
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