Compatibility: More than Just a Relationship Problem

Last week, I changed over from Microsoft Word 2004 to Microsoft Word 2008 for Macs. While it was not quite as traumatic as I was anticipating, there have been significant adjustments that I’ve needed to make. The key issue is that, if I’m planning to let other people use a file, I have to save my .docs as, well, .docs. Word 2008 automatically saves files as .docxs — a file formate that Word 2004 doesn’t open. Since most of the clients I work with haven’t made the change over (and may not for years), I have to save my files in a format that will be compatible.

Even worse, my handy dandy Google Docs don’t handle .docx files — I’m hoping they will eventually, but there isn’t a guarantee. As Google Docs is, in my opinion, one of the easiest ways to collaborate on a project without buying expensive collaboration software, I’m hoping really hard that they do update it.

As a freelance writer, I’ve had to develop a good working knowledge of file formats — not necessarily a topic I ever expected to cover. Some editors will work only with .docs, while others want .rtfs or .txts — file formats that can be opened on just about any computer, no matter what software you’re running. Old school Microsoft Word files seem to be considered standard, though, so no matter what word processing software you like, it must be capable of saving files as .docs.

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