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File compatibility (Word 2007)

By On Aug 8 2011, 7:02 am

At the weekend I was sorting out one of those cupboard middens that even the best-run households seem to acquire (not that my household is one of the best run, to be perfectly honest with you), and found a couple of computer games my kids had years ago, one based on The Cat in the Hat and one a Crayola coloring game.  I got the Cat in the Hat one to run on our computer, but so far the coloring one just won't install.  My daughters are both teenagers now, so they've moved on from these type of games anyway, but it would be fun to revisit something they loved playing with when they were little.

It's one of the most frustrating things about computers: they change so fast that software gets out of date almost overnight.  And it's so depressing to have a great computer program that you can't get to work anymore!

It's also pretty frustrating when it comes to sending files to other people.  I manage the submissions inboxes for Samhain, and I regularly get attachments of manuscripts saved in WordPerfect, OpenOffice, or something else I don't even recognize.  Usually it's quite easy for the writer who's sent it in to resave it as a more universally accepted format (we require rich text format or MS Word documents, because everyone at Samhain can open them with no trouble).

But sometimes we run into the Word 2007 problem.  Up until Word 2007, all versions of Word saved files with the extension ".doc".  Word 2007, though, saves files with the extension ".docx", and they don't open on older versions of Word.

Quite a lot of Samhain staff members have Word 2007 or later, and for them this is no problem.  But (because of the whole technology changing overnight thing I mentioned earlier) quite a lot of us haven't updated our Word versions yet.  Which is why our submissions guidelines specify ".doc" not ".docx".

The trouble comes when someone sends in what they happily assume is a standard Word document, but they've used Word 2007 and so it comes through in a  ".docx" format.  I can open all these files, as I have Word 2007, and resave them, but we get a lot of submissions and if I have to do that too many times it really slows me down.  So I generally ask the authors to resave.

But because, in addition to changing its file type, Word 2007 has changed its toolbar as well, people sometimes simply can't see how to do that.

So, for all those people whom I upset by asking them to change what they (understandably) thought was a standard Word document, here are the instructions for doing it:

Open your document in your version of Word.

Click the Office Button at the top left of the screen.

Mouse down to Save As.  A list of options will appear.

Click on Word 97-2003 Document.

When the Save As dialogue box opens you'll see you can choose a name for the file, and underneath, in Save as type, you'll see that you're saving it as a Word 97-2003 Document.

Name the file.  It's fine to name it the same as you named your previous file (the one saved as a Word 2007 document): because you're saving it as a different format it won't save over the previous file.  But you may find it more useful to give it a slightly different name so that when you attach it to an email you don't inadvertently choose the previous version.

Click Save.

If you've done something fancy with your document, at this point you'll get a warning message saying that by saving in this format you'll lose some features in the saved file.  This probably isn't something you need to worry about, so go ahead with the save.

When you hit Attach in your email program, in the list of files to attach you might not be able to see the file extensions.  If you hover over the names, though, the full name will appear.  The files you've saved as Word 2007 will just say Microsoft Office Word Document, but the ones you've saved to be compatible with older versions of Word will say Microsoft Office Word 97-2003 Document.

Make sure you choose the version of your document that says this, and when you send it through to us, instead of an email from me asking you to resend, you should get one that says "That's great!  Thank you!"

Then all you have to do is wait for us to review your manuscript…wink




One Response to “File compatibility (Word 2007)”

  1. Sabrina D. says:

    Also, for users who haven’t upgraded to Word 2007 yet, if you do a search on either google or there is an add on that you can install that will allow older versions of Word to read .docx files. It’s a free add on direct from Microsoft.

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