help me play well with others
October 21, 2009 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a universally compatible word processing program that can I download for free off the internet.

I'm using Open Office on my computer, which I got for free. It works fine for me but sometimes when I send files to other people they're unable to open them. As I'm applying for academic jobs, this doesn't make me look very good, to say the least. What word processing program, can I get off the internet, for free, that will be universally compatible with any other computers to which I might send files? Thanks!
posted by crazylegs to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
Save your documents as RTF.
posted by roofone at 2:50 PM on October 21, 2009

OpenOffice also saves files as .doc format, which is a pretty accepted standard for sending resumes.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:52 PM on October 21, 2009

yeah you can't save your docs in the .odt format (or whatever they call the openoffice 3.0 docs now). When you save, choose "save as windows 2xxx", the likelihood of compatibility is much better
posted by Think_Long at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2009


Well, OK. You could probably get away with creating & sending rtf files or something, but I doubt that's an acceptable solution.

OpenOffice is as good as it gets. Are you using the latest version & are you saving files in the most compatible Word format? If you save files in recent Word formats & your recipients are using old versions of Word then that's going to be a problem regardless of which word processor you use.

If you're applying for academic jobs, why aren't you just sending pdfs? There's no need for the recipient to be able to edit the applications they receive.
posted by pharm at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Use open office to export your documents as PDF. Unless the people you're applying to need to edit your resume (and they don't), then there's no reason to send it in an editable format.

PDFs will appear exactly how you created them on virtually any platform - that's why they were created.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2009

and on preview, I see we have now said the same thing thrice. UNITY!
posted by Think_Long at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2009

Yeah there's no better program than open office [that's free] for this that's any more than a text editor.

My basic feeling (as someone who teaches people how to do this sort of thing as a job) is that someone, somewhere is going to have an issue with an attachment and the best you can do is either have a few options available [word document, additional link to HTML version or PDF version] or just send them information as text.

The .doc standard, like it or not, is nearly universal and if you use OO to save as a .doc file you're going to be as compatible with the most programs with the least hassle as you can be. RTF should also work but I know for some people the process of opening up an RTF can have a road bump or two [whether it should is another question, but let's talk reality, not dream world] in a way that a .doc won't.
posted by jessamyn at 2:54 PM on October 21, 2009

There isn't one. If typography and formatting are critical, send them PDF. If you want to send a formatted word-processing document, the broadest format is very simple RTF followed closely by MSWord 98 DOC with a very limited set of features and using a narrow set of fonts.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:56 PM on October 21, 2009

what chrisamiller said, and if they explicitly ask for word, make the layout as simple as possible before saving it as a word document (.doc).
posted by davejay at 2:59 PM on October 21, 2009

Thirding Open Office saved as PDF.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:01 PM on October 21, 2009

If you're applying for academic jobs, you should be sending your resume in PDF format.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:04 PM on October 21, 2009

Response by poster: When I click on "save as" and then on "save as type" in Open Office, I have the option of saving in .doc format but not pdf, at least not that I can see. Where is it?
posted by crazylegs at 3:10 PM on October 21, 2009

you'll have to get a pdf creator, of which there are several free ones. ummm, someone will beat me to a link so just wait a minute
posted by Think_Long at 3:12 PM on October 21, 2009

It's technically an "export" to PDF. More information is on the Open Office wiki. If you're using a Mac you can also go as if you were going to print the document and in the lower left corner of the print dialog box, there's a PDF button and you can "print to PDF" to get a PDF that way also.
posted by jessamyn at 3:12 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Open office ships with pdf creation enabled, even on windows.

There's a small PDF button in the standard toolbar, or you can go to File>Export as PDF
posted by chrisamiller at 3:15 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: That's great, thanks everyone for all the help! Saved by metafilter yet again.
posted by crazylegs at 3:21 PM on October 21, 2009

Also, if you are really stuck you could use an online file conversion service. I use Zamzar which is FREE and can convert a tonne of different formats including Open Office to Word / PDF.
posted by wannalol at 6:29 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just for completeness' sake, a great and commonly-used free PDF maker is CutePDF. It works like a printer - just go to print your document and choose CutePDF from the list of printers.
posted by folara at 11:45 PM on October 21, 2009

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