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Save your text documents as RTF whenever you can

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We all run in to problems with certain computers not being able to read the attached Microsoft Word document. Word 98 can’t open Word 2003 documents, Word 2003 can’t open 2007 documents. Word 2010 can’t open Word 5.1 documents and so on.

So what is a good format that all word processors can read?

Rich Text Format – RTF (Developed by Microsoft, ironically).

From Wikipedia:

The Rich Text Format (often abbreviated RTF) is a document file format developed by Microsoft in 1987 for cross-platform document interchange. Most word processors are able to read and write RTF documents.

RTF doesn’t support all features of word processors the most commonly used being tables, images, headers and footers. But more often than you think, you aren’t using any of those features, anyway.

I’ve been in the  habit of  saving text as RTF 1994, and not once has anyone failed to open the documents. RTF documents created with Word 5.1 for the Mac from 1993 can be opened today with any word processor on any platform I’ve ever tried.

So the next time someone sends you a document with the latest Word 2014 .docxyz format, simply reply:

This file format is not supported by my computer. Please save the document as Rich Text Format (RTF) and resend. That way all recipients can open it. Thank you!


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