Q&A: Opening .doc docs

Q Why does a single-page invoice, created using Microsoft Word and saved in .doc format, open correctly in Pages ’08, but appears fractured in format with Pages ’09?

A Checking the file that you sent, it opens fine in Word 2011 and LibreOffice too, but Pages 4.3 makes a dog’s breakfast of it.

This is because the .doc native format is not a fully open standard, and different attempts to produce converters than can open .doc files will trip over certain files. Some third party applications like Pages and LibreOffice share system-level document conversion libraries, but it is clear that Pages ’09 is doing its own thing here.

Ultimately the only reliable way of opening .doc files is with Word, and even then some versions may mangle some files – all very Microsoftian.

If someone needs to send you non-editable files, an open interchange format such as PDF is generally more robust, and far less likely to mess up the formatting. It is also worth their bearing in mind that sending a regular Word document is an invitation to inadvertent or even deliberate editing of its content, which is perhaps inappropriate for financial records such as invoices.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 29 issue 6, 2013.