Problem with formatting/columns/error code that won't go away

Occasional Contributor

I'm getting this when I try to squeeze in my margins.

"Increasing left margin causes first column to become too narrow in some sections having unevenly spaced columns."

I've tried all the tricks I found online and it's not working. This is a 94 page document with LOTS of indents and tabs and tables and such. Several people submitted their sections to this Frankenstein of a Word doc that I now need to format correctly. Since I'm not terribly familiar with Word but know InDesign, I'm trying to import it there, BUT, the doc doesn't like it when I try to make it fit the margins I have set. I have to pull them in more on left and right for printing purposes. If I try to import using the new margins, it only imports like 10 pages and not the rest. If I let it import using the margins in the Word doc, it flows in all the pages, but then I have the problem of trying to increase those margins in InDesign. If I change the margins AFTER importing, all my pages disappear except the first 10 or so. My thought is that if I can fix the margins in Word to the NEW margins I need, it will import successfully. Can anyone help with this? I HAVE to get this project done soon!

10 Replies
Are there any Newspaper Style columns in the document? If not, access the Columns dropdown in the Page Setup section of the Layout tab of the ribbon and click on More Columns, leave Number of columns as 1 and then click on OK.

If that does not overcome the problem. upload a copy of it (click on Open Full Text Editor when you use the Reply facility) and we will investigate the problem.

@Doug_Robbins_Word_MVPappears to be one column, but won't import correctly into InDesign. I tried a few more things, but still only drops in the first 10-11 pages and no farther, unless I move the margins out in the InDesign document, which doesn't help since I need to move the margins in and don't want to have to go through each page and move the text boxes in. Matter of fact, I started to try that and I got as far as page 10, and guess what? Everything past that disappeared! So weird. I'd love to attach the file but couldn't find "Open full text editor". :(

@Doug_Robbins_Word_MVP  Ah! Found it! Here's the file!

 @LMcIntire Beginning with Section 80 on Page 71, the document is set up with three "newspaper style" columns, with widths of 9.9 mm, 38.4 mm and 76.3 mm and it is because of that setup that you get that message when you try to adjust the margins.



Instead of those three "newspaper style" columns, a table should be used for that content.


I suspect that the document was created from a scanned image\pdf file as it is really quite a mess.



Oh it’s a Frankenstein for sure! From what I’m told, several different people had their hands in this and all used different settings a style sheets etc. i just need to import it into InDesign the most efficient way possible to hopefully perform minimal reformatting. Maybe I’ll just have to copy and paste it all and lose ALL the formatting which will be super time consuming. Unless i can fix the margins in word. What i need is a mirror page layout with .25 top, .46 bottom, .625 outside and .375 inside. I’ve tried many different ways and it will NOT reflow to those margins throughout the document. I know enough about Word to be dangerous ;) that’s about it. I appreciate any help you can give as i need to get this project going and printed. Ugh! Thank you!

I’m sorry, the measurement i gave you were inches, by the way.

@LMcIntire In the attached document, I used CTRL+A to select everything and then accessed the Page Setup>Columns dialog and clicked the checkbox for Equal column width so that it had a tick.   Then it was possible to set the margins to the values that you specified.  It will however and change the layout of those Sections of the document for which Uneven Columns had been used where a table should have been used.








I did the same thing, but Word would not allow me to change the margins and values… I tried importing and it did the same thing. Only placed the first 10-11 pages. Could there be something corrupt? I even tried copy and pasting all into a new Word doc from the original one then importing again. Still wouldn’t work. Not sure what InDesign is not liking about this file! Thank you for your help…

@LMcIntire This is the first two pages of Schedule C in the original document




and this is how it should have been set up using a table rather than newspaper style columns



The borders are optional, but were left in to show the arrangement.

Until you deal with issues like that, you cannot expect to get satisfactory results.


Definitely! Looks SO much better! It’ll take me hours to fix this, and you’d think they’d do a better job of providing files that are more usable to save money in art charges… oh well. Thank you so much for all your help!