Stop sharing information using Word docs

I don’t know why people insist on sharing information using MS-Word documents. I’m not talking about documents where you need to collaborate on or edit or whatever else. No, this is about documents which contain information that is only for viewing.

For example, someone will send you an email with directions to their place, where the directions will be typed into a Word document and sent as an attachment to the email. That’ll need you to download the Word document, open it up in Word (or OpenOffice) and then read the information. Too much work. Here’s a tip: just type the directions in the body of the email and if there’s a map (image) to be attached, attach that to the email instead of pasting it into a Word document.

I’ve got nothing against Word; I’ve used it many times and will continue to use it. It just annoys me that people assume that everyone has Word installed on their computer. No, everyone doesn’t because it costs a bit if you want a licensed copy, not a pirated one.

If the information must be sent in a document form, especially stuff that doesn’t need formatting, plain text is a thing of beauty. Text files can be easily viewed on most operating systems and they’re so light, it’s like fat-free documents or something.

If you need to include formatting and / or graphics or need some sort of copy-protection (rolls eyes), you can use PDF. At least the viewer’s free and you can also print / convert PDFs for free. Also, you tend to find a PDF reader already installed on most computers now. It’s not the best format for the web (see my previous rant) but it’s better than a Word doc.

And, there’s always the option of using HTML (or derivatives thereof) when you’re sharing information on the web.

To sum up, Word is good for a lot of things — sharing information isn’t one of them.

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