What are the Different Document Formats in Word and why are they Necessary?

If you use Microsoft Word, saving a document would probably be easy.  The steps include clicking “save” on the file section, selecting a folder for the document and then clicking save or OK.  

What may be unclear to you is selecting a different format for the document or the need for select a different format for your file.  

Microsoft has its own format for storing files. The DOC format was the preferred choice, but changes were made since Word 2007 documents and above. The latest format is DOCX.    

Different word processors have their specific standards as well. For instance, Open Office Writer uses OpenDocument (ODF) format. Kingsoft Writer uses the WPS format.

These word processors can save documents in several formats, which make them easy to access using other programs. You will notice this if you pull down the save dialog box where various options are provided for you. These are some of the popular ones and instances when they are useful.   

Rich text format is a universal word processing format used by almost every word processor. The main difference it has with plain text is it retains basic formatting information like font sizes and styles. This type of format allows you to exchange text files from one operating system to another.

Therefore, you can create a file using Windows 98 and save it as RTF file (with a prefix of .rtf), and send it to someone else who has WordPerfect 6.0 on Windows 3.1. The person will be able to open the file and read its contents. In other formats, a separate reader or write may be required.  

PDF is also a common format that is also recognized by several viewers. You can use it to create a document in a read-only format, which makes it tricky to edit. Since most browsers can view PDFs without having to download the file, this format makes it easy to distribute documents online.      

You can save your raw texts using Plain text format. This means, there are no formatting, no hidden codes, only words. This forma can be used to transfer texts that need to be imported to other programs for instance blog tool or text editor.

If you have Word 2010, you will not be able to open files that written using Word 97 unless you have a converter that allows you to save documents using the old format. Nonetheless, you may lose some formatting during translation from the old to the new format, but most of it will be retained.  

You can also use Word to save files as web pages, XML documents, templates and other formats.