RTF vs DOC

skbohler
skbohler used Ask the Experts™
on
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
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018
Commented:
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.
Developer
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Commented:
> 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.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Any time I received an RTF document in email, it could never be opened in Word no matter how I tried. Never
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
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.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
I guess the real question to skbohler is why make a website unusable to most of us.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
@skbohler - Thank you and I dearly hope I was not overly harsh on a subject that has bitten me so many times.

Author

Commented:
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.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

Commented:
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

Author

Commented:
Is .docx or .doc preferable in terms of having the widest usability?

Author

Commented:
Hi Joe,

The users intend to modify the files.

Thanks,

Steve
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
DOCX, if using DOC is now preferable. The vast majority of users have now progressed to DOCX, XLSX formats.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

Commented:
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.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
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).
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

Commented:
> 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.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
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.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

Commented:
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.
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
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.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial