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New File Formats in Office 2007

Microsoft Office 2007 introduces new XML file formats that are based on open standards. What does this all mean?

  1. It is a compact file format. Documents are automatically compressed and up to 75% smaller than previous file formats.

  2. Improved file damage recovery – if a part of a file is corrupted, you will still be able to open the document.

  3. Improved security – personally identifiable information and business-sensitive information, such as user names, comments, tracked changes, and file paths, are easily identified and removed.

But what about earlier versions of Microsoft Office documents? Can I read an Office 2007 Word document in Word 2003?

The best way to handle this is to load the Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office system. This will allow you to open Office 2007 documents in some earlier versions of Office.

However, there will be some limitations. The compatibility pack will allow you to open these document, but the more complex the formatting, the more issues you will have. If you are using some of the new formatting elements in an Office 2007 document, they will not convert elegantly to earlier versions of Office. For many people, this is not an issue, as they most likely use Word as a typewriter and do not utilize many of the advanced formatting features.

When creating an Office 2007 document, you can also save it as an earlier version of Office by clicking on the Office Button, then Save As. Or, you can set up the default in Word 2007 to automatically save documents in the Wodd 97-2003 version. Click on the Office Button, click on Word Options, click Save in the left hand column, then change the “Save files in this format:” drop-down list. Excel 2007 file defaults can be changed the same way.

A note of caution: If the Office 2007 file has a password, you will NOT be able to open it in previous versions of Office, even if you have the compatibility pack installed.

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