One reason Microsoft Word can become slow is because documents are often reused and document history is never flushed. Formatting metadata build-up, different versions of Office, and sharing between Mac and Windows versions – all contribute over time to Word crashing, the infamous spinning beach ball, and document corruption.
Templates vs. Save As
One quick way to flush all of this awful history is to simply Save As... Word Template (.dotx). You can also Copy the contents from an existing document and Paste Special... Unformatted Text into a new document. If none of this works to improve Word's responsiveness (even with a new document), then try deleting the Normal template file. Instructions are below.
Refresh and Backup Normal
- Quit Word.
- Move the Normal.dotm file to the Desktop (it's located in ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates).
- Relaunch Word.
This will force Office to generate a new Normal.dotm file. If all looks good then it's safe to trash the old Normal.dotm file from the Desktop. However, be aware that Word's default fonts, styles and toolbar customizations are stored in this file. Therefore, if you customize Word, save a backup of your Normal.dotm file for future use (save the new one, not the old one :).
Microsoft Office for Mac Accredited Support Professional, 2013
We learned about this stuff while while taking the Microsoft Accreditation Course offered through MacTech Conferences. Completing this course (and passing the exam) also allows us to display the following badge. (Yes, we are that cool.)