.doc vs .docx – Which & why?

March 18, 2015 at 11:40 am | Posted in copywriting | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Begin with the end in mind.

Begin with the end in mind.

I got a new editing project the other day.

A piece of technical writing destined to pass through many hands.

It’s also intended to form part of a series.

I always start a job by setting ground rules. And given this brief, the need for consistency from the start was paramount.

So the first question I sent to my client was:

‘Hi there!

I want to save everyone a lot of hassle by deciding which Word document format we’re all going to use.

I use Word 97-2003 (.doc) format.

This ensures everyone in the food chain can access and use it, regardless of how old their software is.

However, the document you sent me is in the more modern Word Document (.docx) format.

I want to ‘dumb down’ your files to Word 97-2003 (.doc) format.

Not just for the reason outlined above.

But because if we have two formats flying around, the various filenames won’t always appear together when we look for them in folders.

This could create problems.

My guess is that you have up-to-date software, with a Word template that automatically creates new documents in .docx format.

If so, you should be able to switch this to .doc format.

But before doing so, you may wish to see what format your staff, designer and publisher are using, so everyone is on the same page.

There are pros and cons to .doc and .docx:

You may decide you want the bells and whistles of .docx and that my ultra-conservative .doc approach isn’t for you.

If you and your people really want to use .docx going forward, that’s totally cool.

So long as everyone knows this, has the software to do so, and complies.

This may sound like a tiny and arcane point, but making this simple decision now could avert dramas down the track.

To this end, could you please let me know which way you (and your team!) wish to go?

Kind regards,


My client’s reply was wonderfully clear and concise.

So much so that I wondered if she needed an editor at all.

She wrote:

‘Yes revert to .doc.’

What a wonderful way to begin!


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by rahego.

Entries and comments feeds.