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Using Microsoft Office files

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Issues with Microsoft Office Documents

In assisting users in maintaining their sites and documents, it's apparent that a lot of us use Microsoft Office to generate documents to distribute on sites.  This is fine if you know your audience has Microsoft Office,  especially if you are using and saving files as MS Office 2007 files, the user will have to have Office 2007 to read them.  Which I don't have, and so when someone sends me a .docx file, I have to find someone to either open it and print it for me or save it as something else.

However that can cause problems.  Not all students own Microsoft Office and some may not even have Microsoft Works.  

While handy for the person creating the document, this limits the users who can view these documents. 

What to do?

There are a number of things you can do to make your documents more accessible to all that you want seeing them.  

  • You can save Microsoft Word documents as RTF (Rich Text Format).   This is a format that can be used by many document programs.
  • You can change the document into a PDF (Adobe Acrobat).  The reader for PDF's is available for free at Adobe (http://get.adobe.com/reader/) and if you do not have access to Adobe Acrobat to create a PDF, you can do so for free at PDF online (http://www.pdfonline.com/) or PDF Converter (http://www.freepdfconvert.com/)).
  • If you need to upload/offer a presentation (say for a class) you can use Google Documents (http://docs.google.com/) to create a flash based presentation just like a Powerpoint presentation.  Also, there are Powerpoint viewers available but that means you are requiring your user to go find a viewer and install it for the presentation. 
  • Google documents also offers a accessible spreadsheet.  You may upload and convert an existing spreadsheet.
  • Or you can save the spreadsheet as a comma delimited file (which many document programs can read).

While I do not know enough of Google Docs to really help anyone, they have a great help section located at http://docs.google.com/support/?hl=en.   

Office File extensions

A list of the common file extensions for MS Office files

Word

XML file type

Extension

Document

.doc

Document Word 2007

.docx

Macro-enabled document

.docm

Excel

XML file type

Extension

Workbook

.xls

Workbook 2007

.xlsx

Macro-enabled workbook

.xlsm

PowerPoint

XML file type

Extension

Presentation

.ppt

Presentation 2007

.pptx

Macro-enabled presentation

.pptm

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