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How to Choose the Correct File Type for a Business Document

In a business environment, sending documents in the correct format can be essential to fluid productivity. By sending incorrect or less-optimal file types, you hinder not only the recipient’s productivity but that of the whole business. Knowing which document file type is which could significantly increase your productivity, along with that of those around you.

DOCX Files

DOCX files are one of the most common formats, and also sometimes one of the most troublesome. They have a great deal of versatility when it comes to text formatting and functions, and are ideal for typing up a quick yet professional-looking document. They also support easy and hassle-free editing. These files are used widely, and you’re more than likely to encounter them on a daily basis.

So what’s the catch? Well, for one, DOCX files are designed to work with Microsoft Word, and specifically newer versions of it. While other text processors can handle it, most users will likely feel obliged to purchase Microsoft’s software. For those running older versions of Word, such as the 2003 edition, a downgrade in the file format may be applied automatically, or it may not register at all. Another downside is that DOCX files aren’t often capable of being displayed in a web browser, so downloading them is typically a must. However, at the end of the day, DOCX files offer fantastic versatility, at least to those who can use them.

PDF Files

The other commonly used document type is the PDF file. PDFs are also widely used, perhaps even more so than DOCX files. This is due to a few properties that PDFs possess over other file types. For one, they are universal, and a wide range of programs exist to read and edit these files. This also applies to web browsers, and almost every commonly-used web browser supports in-browser PDF viewing.

Thus, it is flexible in its compatibility and is also relatively versatile when it comes to text formatting, as well.

However, PDFs do also have their share of weaknesses. Unlike DOCX files, PDFs may take more than a bit of effort to edit, and already-published PDF files will often stay that way. Furthermore, they usually take up a larger file size than DOCX files, which may be an issue for those low on hard drive space. These are probably minor issues to most users, but should be noted.

DOC Files

The precursor to the DOCX file type, DOC files are a backward-compatible yet the less-complex form of Microsoft’s file format. These are generally eclipsed by DOCX files, and should really only be used if the recipient or network utilizes older computers or software.

TXT Files

TXT files are text documents without any frills. With little to no formatting or design possible, these files convey only one thing: raw text. They are excellent for documents which need to be read automatically, as by a program, or for those low on file space. However, their lack of features and capabilities mean that most often, you won’t be using this file type for business purposes.

These three file types are by far the most commonly used, and other file types are likely encompassed by the features possessed by these. If you need the recipient to be able to edit and quickly examine the document, a DOCX file will be most appropriate. If you’re looking to present the file as formally and efficiently as possible, it might be best to go with a PDF. If you want the structure of a DOCX, but don’t have the newer software to support it, you may want to settle for the DOC file type. And, lastly, if you don’t need any formatting, or if you need for the document to be run through a program, the simple TXT file may be the best way to go. Knowing the difference between these file types could make or break your next project, so be sure to carefully choose how to send your documents.