Short Bytes: DOC and DOCX are two most common word document formats. Created by Microsoft, both are supported by almost all word processing software. DOCX, where X stands for XML, is newer and results in smaller and lighter files. DOCX also makes sure that all the formatting and advanced features are supported by third-party software.

Along with PDF format, the most commonly used document formats are DOC and DOCX. If you deal with tons of documents regularly, you must be agreeing with me. Both of these are extensions in Microsoft Word documents, and they can be used to store images, table, formatted text, charts, etc.

But, what’s the difference between a DOC and DOCX file? In this article, I’ll be explaining this difference and compare them. Please note that these file types have nothing to do with DDOC or ADOC files.

.DOC File vs .DOCX File – What’s the difference?

Since a long time, Microsoft Word has used DOC as its default file type. DOC has been used since the first release of Word for MS-DOS. Till 2006, when Microsoft opened DOC specifications, Word was a proprietary format. Over the years, updated DOC specifications were released for use in other document processors.

DOC has now been included in many free and paid document processing programs like LibreOffice Writer, OpenOffice Writer, KingSoft Writer, etc. You can use these programs to open DOC files and edit them. Google Docs too has an option to upload DOC files and perform necessary actions.

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DOCX format was developed by Microsoft as a successor to DOC. In the Word 2007 update, the default extension of files was changed to DOCX. It was done due to rising competition from free and open source formats like Open Office and ODF.

In DOCX, the coding work for DOCX was done in XML, hence the X in DOCX. The new coding also allowed it to support advanced features.

DOCX, which was a result of the standards presented under the name Office Open XML, brought improvements like smaller file sizes. This change also paved way to formats like PPTX and XLSX.

Converting DOC file to DOCX

In most of the cases, any word processing software that’s able to open a DOC file, can convert that document to DOCX file. The same can be said for DOCX to DOC conversion. This problem comes when someone’s using Word 2003 or before. In that case, you need to open DOCX file in Word 2007 or later (or some other compatible program) and save it in DOC format.

For older versions of Word, Microsoft has also released a compatibility pack that can be installed to bring DOCX support.

Apart from that, these software like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, LibreOffice Writer, etc. are capable of converting DOC files to other formats like PDF, RTF, TXT, etc.

Which one should I use? DOC or DOCX?

Today, DOC vs DOCX issue isn’t much problematic. Both these document formats are supported by almost all programs. However, DOCX is a better option as it results in smaller and lighter file size. These files are easier to read and transfer. As it’s based on Office Open XML standard, all word processor software support all advanced features. Many software are slowly dropping the option to save documents in DOC format.

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Adarsh Verma
Fossbytes co-founder and an aspiring entrepreneur who keeps a close eye on open source, tech giants, and security. Get in touch with him by sending an email — [email protected]