Sharing Microsoft Word Files

Q  I am working in Office 97 and my boss wants me to upgrade to Office 2000. He says
that when he receives [Microsoft Word] documents
from me via attached e-mail, the page breaks and
tabs must all be realigned and he believes it’s because I am not using Office 2000. Could that be true or is there another reason this is occurring? — S.T.

A  The file format used in Microsoft Word 97 and 2000 is basically identical, so you
should not be running into any compatibility problems
when reading a Word 97 document into Word 2000. If
you were to open a Word 2000 document in Word 97, you would lose the Word 2000-specific features
(such as nested tables), but the files are generally pretty
interchangeable. Upgrading to Word 2000 may not have much impact on your problem.

However, when transporting Microsoft Word documents between two different computers,
there are a few other issues you need to consider:
what fonts are installed on each machine, what printer
is selected, and how the document uses templates.

One possibility is that you are using a font or
fonts that your boss doesn’t have on his computer. If
Word is unable to find the font your document calls for,
it automatically substitutes the closest one it has,
which may not be very close at all! The characteristics of
the substituted font may be different from the
original font, which would cause changes in page length
and appearance.

It is possible to copy fonts from one machine to
another, but you may be violating the font’s
licensing agreement. A more legal solution would be to
make sure you are only using fonts that are also installed
on the other computer.

The current printer selection can also affect
how the document appears. If you create the
document with one printer selected but your boss opens
the document with a different printer selected, the
document may display and print differently. Always
select the printer you intend to use before you finalize
the format of your document, and make sure that
you and your boss are using the same kind of printer
and printer drivers.

Another possibility is that you saved the
document with "Automatically update document styles"
turned on. You can check this in Word 97 by
choosing Tools|Templates and Add-Ins. The dialog box
that comes up has a checkbox under the document
template name. If that box is checked, then Word
reapplies all the styles in the attached template every
time you open the document. Note that this automatic
update feature does not work properly in Word 97
or Word 2000 if you are using the
template (see Microsoft Knowledge Base articles
Q166174 and Q211556 at

The automatic update feature is useful if you
always want your document to reflect the latest
version of the template, but not so hot if you want the
document to retain the formatting it had when you
last saved it. In your case, make sure the box is
unchecked so the document retains the formatting
you applied to it. You can then be confident that
the styles defined in your document are not being
replaced by the styles from a template on your
boss’ computer.

Finally, the way your boss opens your document may be the problem. If he opens a new
document and then selects Insert|File, the styles in your
document will adapt to his document styles as Word
pulls in your document.

Although exchanging documents with workmates who use different software or different versions
can cause problems, you’ll find that other variations
in the configuration of your computers or the way
you use them is more often the source of your
trouble. Such is the price of independent computing.