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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Word Document Opening Problems

Someone asked me if there was anything that they could do if they created a Word document, sent it to someone else who edited it, that other person then sent it back, and then the creator couldn't open the document.

Unfortunately this is quite a common situation when using MS Word as Word is notorious for having poor backwards compatibility. This problem is only made worse when a user attempts to use third party application to view, and edit, the Word document since MS does not publish the Word document specifications openly.

Often, if MS Word is unable to open a word document written with an alternate version of Word, OpenOffice may be able to open the Word document. However, the real solution is to take all reasonable steps to avoid storing documents as Word documents in the first place. It is good policy to strive to store your documents in a file format which is open and free. If you have a need to provide the document to someone who requires that the document be in the closed format then it is best to merely create a copy of the document in the closed format but maintain the original document, in the open format, as the master copy.

Good luck converting your MS Word documents, if you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at


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