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by Ray Carlson

Q: How can I share documents with people who use different word processors?

A: When you save a document in a word processing program, the document is saved in the format specific to that program. The format is indicated by the three or four letters that appear in the document’s name after the period, e.g., .DOC, .DOCX, .WPD, etc. If you select “Save As” instead of “Save,” the window that opens will ask for a name and type for the file. If you click on the arrow at the end of the box for type, several formats will appear. If the document is being sent to people who use different programs, the safest response is to use Rich Text Format or .RTF. That format was published by Microsoft in 1987 to be compatible with most word processing programs. Some advanced features may be lost, but the content should be clear to all.

On the other hand, if you receive a program with a different format than you use, save the file. Open your word processor with a blank page. Click on Open. Click on the arrow next to the format, and the list of possibilities will appear. IF the one that fits the document you received is there, click on that format and find the document in your directory. It should open. If the format is not listed, download the free LibreOffice program. Use Google or Bing to locate it. The LibreOffice program called Writer will open a large number of formats.

Published: Courier 8/21/11 - Page 7C