The way Word lays out a page has changed with almost every version. Depending on what you do, you may like the new or prefer the old. For this reason, and for backwards compatibility, all the accumulated changes have been kept as growing list of “compatibility layout options”. The user can activate/de-activate these for each document individually, or as a group.

The following screen shot shows part of the options list for Word 2010. Changing the selection in “Lay out this document as if created in:” will change numerous settings to emulate the layout used in the selected version. Or, if you’re interested in only one setting, such as the bottommost “Don’t use HTML paragraph autospacing”, you just check that box. (This option adds “Space Before” and “Space After” settings, rather than applying just one of the settings.)

Word 2010 compatibility options

In Word 2013, if you create a new document from a 2013 version of Normal.dotm, you get a greatly reduced list of compatibility layout options and no possibility to work with the old ones. They also aren’t available through the object model. If you try to apply one, you get Run-time error 6313 “One of the values passed to this property or method is out of range for this file format.”

Here’s how the same dialog looks in 2013. There are only the seven “Layout options” and nothing in “Compatibility options” You’d think perhaps you could somehow scroll down, but you can’t.

Word 2013 compatibility options

If you need to use the old layout options in Word 2013 you can either

  • Start with a document or template created in an older version of Word OR
  • You can save a Word 2013 document to the Word 97-2003 file format (which will enable the options) and then save it to *.docx, being careful to retain compatibility mode with older versions.

Now you can use full list of the Layout options.

(The dropdown list “Compatibility Options for” contains an entry “All New documents” giving the impression that you could somehow use this, starting from a document in “Compatibility Mode” in order to get to these options and set some as a default. But that is not the case – the list of options simply disappears when that entry is selected.)

A related problem is how Word 2013 deals with tab stops positioned in the right margin. A Word 2013 document doesn’t allow or honour tab stops positioned in the right margin unless they’re in a table. If you open a document from an older version of Word the tab stops are respected and you can tab to them until the document is saved in such a way as to remove “Compatibility Mode” from the title bar. At this point, any text that was positioned at such a tab stop is moved to a new line, as shown in the next screen shot. The only solution is to retain Compatibiliy Mode, as described above.

Tab stop 2010 vs. 2013

6 Responses to “Word 2013: Where are the layout options?”
  1. Eric Crowther says:

    I have run into the very same problem with the right tab in a TOC and TOA, and with the Layout/Compatibility options. I find that if I select All New Documents, I can check additional Layout options, and if I go back in and select All New Documents AGAIN, those boxes remained checked. However, the spacing of my paragraphs in a California pleading, which relies upon specific layout options, is not working correctly, except of course in Compatibility Mode. Very frustrating!

    • wordmeister says:

      Hi Eric

      The word is that Microsoft is aware of the problem with tabs inside of margins (as opposed to those outside the margin) not working as in previous versions and is investigating the behavior. Translated, this means it’s not “by design” (wasn’t intended with the change in the layout engine). So we can hope that, at some point, it gets corrected – but no promises as to whether or when!

      • Eric Crowther says:

        Thanks for the update. I hope they do fix that, but the Layout options are a much bigger issue for me, frankly, and I hope MS reconsiders that. Having to take documents back to 97-2003 format and then save them up and retain compatibility is not just inconvenient, but problematic when it involves templates. It basically means having to tell everyone to go back to Compatibility Mode!

  2. wordmeister says:

    Hi Michael
    Sorry about the late answer. I get so few comments that I’ve almost given up watching out for them :-) Thank you for supllementing the information, here. There’s a discussion in the “Communities” forum about this that it might be good for you to watch or particpate in:
    I do know this point has been brought to the product team’s attention, and it’s a good argument for re-thinking what they’ve done.
    Obviously, some people making design decisions really don’t understand everything about how power-users work with Word. As the years progress, the focus goes more and more to the “write a letter to Mom” users and “simplifying” the application. Which is sad, considering how much went into creating the powerful product it had become…

  3. Michael Harris says:

    Re: tab stops positioned in the right margin. This is a problem for tables of contents and authorities. In Word 2010 and earlier versions, I had a right tab at the normal right margin. Page numbers went there. However I wanted the text to wrap about an inch to the left of the page number. I dragged the right margin triangle to that position. Can’t do that in 2013. Therefore, I’ll have to add hard returns manually to the text.

    • Laura Leader says:

      Hi Michael (and others),
      For the tab issue you describe, rather than dragging the margin you can move the right indent of the paragraph. What I do for TOC’s and TOA’s is set the tab at the margin and give the TOC and TOA styles .5″ right indents. Though I haven’t tested this in Word 2013 yet, I am just assuming it will work.

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