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RTF vs DOC

Posted on 2016-09-08
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Last Modified: 2016-09-08
Hello,

Our business website has linked to document files in RTF format since 1999. The original reason was that it was a standard format that non-Office word processing software could open (our users are corporate environment users).

However, today, I'm wondering if it's still the case. Most of our users don't know what a .rtf document, so there is some "open anxiety" there.

I'm under the impression that any word processing client today can open .doc or .docx files.

If true, any reason to offer our RTF instead of moving to DOC?

Thanks in advance,

Steve
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Question by:skbohler
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Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 250 total points
ID: 41790463
RTF documents have ALWAYS been a pain in the butt to me - most simply cannot be even opened. I avoid RTF and any website that uses them.

Sorry to be gruff but as a long time Office user (over 2 decades) I really have never been able to open a RTF file (and I do not wish to learn).

I can use DOC, TEXT and PDF and for websites, PDF is almost always a good approach.
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Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 250 total points
ID: 41790469
> I'm under the impression that any word processing client today can open .doc or .docx files.

True. Hard to call yourself a word processing program these days if you can't open DOC and DOCX files. But any program that can open DOC and DOCX files can almost surely open RTF files.

> any reason to offer our RTF instead of moving to DOC?

No. But I would give serious consideration to moving to PDF. Unless you want the users to be able to modify the DOC/DOCX/RTF files, then PDF is a better choice, imo.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41790472
Any time I received an RTF document in email, it could never be opened in Word no matter how I tried. Never
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 41790473
No, in fact the 'modern' version of RTF is Not the old word processing format but HTML.  Microsoft changed their mind some years ago.  LibreOffice and OpenOffice will read and write all three formats.  I believe WordPerfect does too.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41790474
I guess the real question to skbohler is why make a website unusable to most of us.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41790477
@skbohler - Thank you and I dearly hope I was not overly harsh on a subject that has bitten me so many times.
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Author Comment

by:skbohler
ID: 41790482
Thank you all. I was under the impression that RTF was the MOST usable format, assuming complex formatting wasn't necessary and being editable was. Sounds like DOC has taken over as the new standard.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 41790488
I've never seen an RTF file that Word or WordPad could not open. Some software companies distribute their Release Notes and EULAs as RTF files, although not their User Guides/Manuals typically. That said, I still think PDF is the way to go (if the users are just viewing the files, not modifying them). Regards, Joe
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Author Comment

by:skbohler
ID: 41790489
Is .docx or .doc preferable in terms of having the widest usability?
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Author Comment

by:skbohler
ID: 41790491
Hi Joe,

The users intend to modify the files.

Thanks,

Steve
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41790492
DOCX, if using DOC is now preferable. The vast majority of users have now progressed to DOCX, XLSX formats.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 41790493
DOC, because some folks might have older versions of Office. The DOCX format came out in Office 2007 and has been in everything ever since — 2010, 2013, 2016. But users on Office 2000 and 2003 (yes, some still are!) won't be able to open a DOCX. That's another reason for going with PDF. I doubt that there are any folks using a computer today without the ability to view a PDF file.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 41790498
You can add a patch for Office 2003 and the number earlier than that is diminishing rapidly.

I finally converted to the new format with Office 2016 (that I have been using for nearly a year now).
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 41790508
> The users intend to modify the files.

Our messages crossed. That's a horse of a different color. For that, you may want to stick with RTF. WordPad is built into Windows and can open, modify, and save RTF files just fine. Of course, so can any version of Word, as well as LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc. Unless you need the fancier formatting that DOC offers, I think RTF is fine.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 41790512
Those who say you've had problems with RTF - I think you're mixing things up.  I've never seen a problem with any version of Word opening any RTF files - Rich Text Format.  WPD (I believe Word Perfect) sure, even Microsoft's own WKS (Works) extensions have had issues, but not RTF.
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 41790522
To follow up on John's excellent comment, Microsoft provides at no charge a product called the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Formats:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3

It allows DOCX, PPTX, and XLSX files to be opened in Office 2000 and 2003. Problem is, not everyone has the compatibility pack installed and I don't think you want to require your users to install it. So there's a big downside (users who can't open DOCX files) and little upside, imo. I'm guessing you can do everything you want to do in DOC files, and probably even in RTF files.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 41790569
Wordpad on XP and Win 7 open *.rtf files as does Word 2007 along with LibreOffice and OpenOffice.  A lot of Microsoft license and help files are in *.rtf format including ones from this year.  All of the 'Office' programs also open DOC and DOCX files although I've found that DOCX files aren't always rendered well in the non-Microsoft programs.
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