Hints & tips

Microsoft Word file format incompatabilities

Microsoft introduced a new file format with Microsoft Word 2007 that uses the file extension “.docx” (Microsoft Word 2010 continues this format by default). Previous versions from Word 2003 back to Word 97 use the file extension “.doc”.

The new file format allows more complex components to be included in documents, including “smart art”. Computers running older versions of Microsoft Word will be unable to open documents created with the later versions, unless one of two solutions is chosen:

1. By the creator/sender – change the default file format to Word 97-2003:

Under the File menu, click on the Options button, then the Save heading, and where you see “Save files in this format” change the option from “Word document (*.docx)” to “Word 97-2003 document (*.doc)”. Then click on the OK button, and any new documents you create will be saved in the older 97-2003 .doc format.

If you have any documents in the docx format that you want to convert, simply open the document, then under the File menu choose “Save As” and change the “Save as type” option to “Word 97-2003″, which will create a file with the .doc extension (you can then delete the .docx version, to keep things tidy).

2. By the recipient – install the free “compatibility pack” from Microsoft: