by Shari Coxford
While it’s very common to email Microsoft Word .doc or .docx files to send an invoice, information, newsletter or simply share something you’ve created, you should never email a file ending in .doc or docx. By sending a standard Microsoft Word document you are assuming that the recipient can open it.
This assumption can create frustration for the recipient if he doesn’t have Microsoft Word installed on his computer. There are dozens of other word processing programs and not all of those programs can read a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file. The recipient double clicks the .doc or .docx file to open it and receives an error window or sometimes, nothing at all. The file doesn’t open and no reason is given, leaving the recipient frustrated and unable to access what you’ve emailed.
He may waste time attempting to find another way to access the .doc or .docx file or he may cost you time and money trying to troubleshoot his inability to open the file. As a last resort you might end up faxing or mailing the document to him. If it’s personal, he may simply trash the .doc or .docx file and not make any further attempts to open it.
Many Macintosh users have Appleworks as their word processor rather than Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works or Microsoft Office. Remember, Macintosh users did not want the Microsoft Windows operating system which is why they bought a Macintosh computer, so it’s a good bet they won’t install a Microsoft word processor either.
Even Windows users may prefer other word processors such as WordPerfect, OpenOffice or Word Pro. While some of these word processing programs can translate a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx file, if the recipient has an older version of software he will likely have problems with your .doc or .docx file, so what can you do? How do you send a file that virtually anyone can open?
The solution is simple. You can save the file as a text file, rich text file or PDF file. This will eliminate the majority of file incompatibility problems between you and the people you email files to.
If the file is an invoice or contains graphics, your best choice is to save it as a PDF file unless the recipient needs the ability to edit the file. If it’s just text with no special formatting such as bold, italics and so forth, send it as a plain text (TXT) file. For simple text documents that include bold, italics and other formatting, save the file as a rich text (RTF) file.
How do you save a file as a PDF, plain text or rich text file? Virtually every word processor has a “Save As…” option in the File menu. This option offers a list of file formats which usually includes “RTF” and “Text” or “Plain Text”. RTF is the abbreviation for “rich text format”. These are considered “file types” and your “Save As…” dialog may include an option button called “File Type”.
Creating a PDF file may be a little more complicated. You might have the option to Save As or Export the document as a PDF file from the File menu. Some computers are set up to create PDF files from the Print dialog. From your File menu choose Print as if you were going to actually print the file and see if there is an option there to convert it to a PDF file.
Many offices have a PDF convertor set up as an actual printer. To create a PDF file this way you would choose Print from the File menu and in the print window where you choose how many copies to print and so forth, PDF would exist as an actual printer in your printer chooser.
The methods for creating a PDF file vary with different versions of software, computer and printer set ups so there is no one way to create a PDF file. In addition, not everyone has the software installed to save a document as a PDF file but virtually everyone can save a document as a plain text (TXT) or rich text (RTF) file.
Whatever file type you choose to email, your best results will always be to email plain text (TXT) files, rich text (RTF) files or PDF files. Plain text files are files that end with .txt. Rich text files end in .rtf and PDF files end in .pdf. Never assume that the person you are emailing can open any other file type such as .doc or .docx unless he specifically tells you that he can, and you will be on your way to achieving file compatibility with the people you email.