What Is MS Word Format?

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MS Word format refers to the document formats developed and used chiefly by Microsoft Word software -- specifically the DOC and DOCX formats.

Associated File Extensions

Word offers several versions of the DOC format used by Word documents. Each version is designed to be compatible with a different version of Word, making it possible to save documents that can be read and edited on legacy versions of Word.


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Versions of Word from 2007 onward use a specialized document format with the extension .docx. The DOCX format includes flexibility for including elements from other Office programs, images and other non-text elements.

Versions from Word 97 up to Word 2003 use the DOC format and are generally less flexible than DOCX documents. However, DOC files are supported by many third-party word processing platforms, making it a more universal format than DOCX.


Other Formats Saved by Word

Word can also save documents as PDF files, plain text TXT files, rich text RTF files, HTML Web pages and OpenOffice ODT files.

Word Documents

Word documents come in many varieties, depending on the purpose of the document itself. They almost always contain text, but they can also contain pictures, charts and tables, hyperlinks, word art, equations and online videos.


Word documents are used for both printed and digital presentations, publications, reports and other projects. For example, using just plain text, you can create a manuscript for a book or create a screenplay. By adding pictures and charts and playing with the fonts, you can create a dynamic report or article for professional or educational purposes.



Alternative Programs

Microsoft developed the DOC and DOCX formats, but many other office and word processing programs view and edit DOC files. Apache's OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Microsoft Wordpad, Corel WordPerfect, Kingsoft Writer and Apple Pages are just a few programs that can display DOC files. Many of these programs are available at no cost. If someone requests you send an MS Word format document and you don't have Microsoft Word, you can use one of these programs to supply the file.


Training Materials From Microsoft

For tips on how to get the most out of Word and make compelling documents, check out Microsoft's tutorials and training documents. They contain useful information to help you get your feet wet with Word and learn some tricks and shortcuts you may not have known.




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