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A History of Microsoft Word – Formats and Features

written by: MD Weems•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/6/2008

The last part of this series will take a look at some of the formats, issues, flaws, and shortcuts that Microsoft Office Word users have come to know and use to their advantage.

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    Microsoft Word Formats

    When it comes to the different versions of Microsoft Word, there are almost as many different formats to go along with them. While the most common format is still the “.doc” format, there are still some others that are used in different versions. But, the “.doc” format actually covers several different versions and several separate formats: Word for DOS, Word for Windows 1 & 2, Word 4 & 5 for Mac, Word 6, Word 95, Word 6 for Mac, Word 97, Word 98, Word 2000, Word 2001, Word 2002, Word 2003, Word 2004 for Mac, Word X, Word 2007, Office Open XML documents, and Word 2008 for Mac. All of these different versions of Word will use and open the “.doc” formats and allow users to change anything in the document as well. Of course, with the different versions of Word that are out there, Microsoft plainly states that users may not always see the same document when they open it – even if two users have the same version of Word. So, you can create a document on Word 2007, and send it to your boss who has Word 2007, and he/she still may not see the same document that you see.

    There are a few other formats that Word documents can come in as well. When Microsoft started to cross over into other areas with Word, they had to find a way to have their documents work in other formats as well. So, there are some other formats, like the Rich Text Format (or RTF), that will also work on Word documents. But, some of the formatting in the document may be completely different or not even work at all when the document is opened on another type of program. Later versions of Word also support HTML files, but this is also an area where it cannot be guaranteed that documents will look the same on different computers. So, it seems that the other formats for Word documents have their flaws as well, and some of them make it not even worth using them.

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    Microsoft Word Features

    When it comes to the basic features of Microsoft Word, there are plenty to go around. For example, in every Word program, there is a base master template from which all the documents are designed. This is the Normal.doc and is used to help determine the margins, the layout of the document, and the overall font information before the document is created. The good thing about this template is that the user can easily change anything that they would like so that the document fits what they are trying to do. The user can even change the defaults of the template, but must keep in mind that this will alter any other documents that they create while using that specific computer.

    Macros are another area where Microsoft Word has some great features that can help users make their lives a bit easier when creating documents. Macros can be extremely helpful, but one of the main issues with them is that they can also create macro viruses in the documents themselves. These macro viruses then prevent them from being sent through email or other forms of communication, and can even prevent the document from being opened at all. There were several patches put out to try and remedy these macro problems, but they do still exist in Word. So, for those who use Macros in their documents, use caution so that you don't corrupt your entire version of Word.

    Other great features of Microsoft Word include that great Office Assistant (which is now gone), a complete help listing with search option, table creator, AutoCorrect (which helps automatically correct smaller problems in written work), a dictionary and thesaurus for checking words, and a built-in spell check that will help you find errors before you send your documents out to be printed or to your boss.

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    It's All History

    So, you should now have a firm grasp on the overall history of Microsoft Word and all that goes along with it. There are plenty of great articles here on Bright Hub to help you learn more about using the program and you can find tons of sites around the web that will give you complete lists of shortcuts that you can use to make your usage of the program easier than ever.