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Share Your Work in Other Office Formats

When you’re sharing an electronic copy of your work, such as via email attachment, there’s a problem if your recipient doesn’t have the same application in which to view it. For example, if you send a PowerPoint presentation to a friend who doesn’t have PowerPoint, he won’t be able to open it.

There are some ways around this. For example, your recipient can go to the Microsoft Office website, search for Viewer, and download a free viewer application for that file type. Viewers for Excel, Word and PowerPoint are available there. Alternatively, as I mention earlier, you can copy and paste the content of the document directly into the body of an email message, rather than sending it as an attachment.

Another workaround is for you to save your work in another format that your intended recipient has an application for. You do this via the Save As dialog box, by selecting a different file type. For example, the Rich Text Format (.rtf) is a near-universal format that almost any word processing program can open, and Word users commonly save in that format when they want to exchange documents with someone who uses a very old or obscure word processing program that doesn’t support Word files.

Perhaps a better way, though, is to create a version of your work in a special format designed for read-only sharing of laid-out pages: a page description language. That way, the recipient sees the page exactly as you intended it, without having to find and download a separate viewer for that specific file type.

Office 2010 supports two major page description languages:

PDF: A format created by Adobe, widely used all over the Internet for distributing documents. It doesn’t come with Windows, but a reader for this format — Adobe Reader — is free to download from Yes, the recipient does still have to download Reader, but it’s just one program, and it will work for the content from all Office apps, plus many other documents.

XPS: A format created by Microsoft, supported natively in Windows Vista and higher. Anyone who has Windows Vista or Windows 7 already has this viewer available.

You can save in PDF or XPS format directly from within an application. Follow these steps:

1.  Choose File-->Save As.

2.  From the Save as Type list, choose either PDF or XPS Document. The dialog box changes to show some additional controls.

3.  (Optional) Change the filename if desired. By default, it’s the same name as the data file you’re working with.

4.  Make an Optimize For selection.

  • For documents that might also be printed on paper, choose Standard (the default).
  • For documents that will be shared only online, choose Minimum Size.

5.   Click Save. The saved file opens in its native program, which is either Adobe Reader (PDF format) or the XPS Viewer or Internet Explorer (XPS format).

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