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File formats

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Types of text files on computer

When you save a document you can set the file name and where you want to store the file on your computer. You can, for example, create a new folder to store the chapters of your book.

You can normally change the file format as well. The format of the file does not affect the words themselves, just the way they are stored. 

Each word processing program has its own storage format. Fortunately most software can import other file formats and convert them to a format they can process. Be careful, though; the words will survive, but the formatting might not.

Many text files use plain text (TXT), Rich Text Format (RTF)  as well as Microsoft Word (DOC) and now .DOCX. Word is the de facto standard and comes in Mac

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and PC formats. Utilities exist to import and export in Word format.

Remember to select 'All file types' when looking for documents as they might have different file extensions, and will not show up if you are only looking for a .DOC file-type.

We recommend the use of RTF files, as they can be read by every word processing package we know. Another reason for adopting this neutral format is that they are smaller.

Microsoft Word documents can be saved as “RTF” (Rich Text Format). This is an ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) text with minimal formatting. Other word-processors allow you to Save_as plain text. (The Save_as option creates another copy of your file, leaving the first unchanged while a simple Save overwrites the original).

PDF is a format that is designed to be portable but not editable. Indeed, lawyers often specify it because it cannot be changed. You can, of course, copy the text, paste it into your word processor and then reformat it but PDF is designed for finished documents, not work in progress.

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