If you write articles for magazines, you should be aware of some new restrictions. Two of the nation's most prestigious magazines have advised authors that they cannot accept articles written in Microsoft Word 2007, and I expect that more magazines will follow soon. There are two different problems involved.
Microsoft introduced a new default format for documents created with Microsoft Word 2007, called "DOCX," replacing the previous DOC format. DOCX is not compatible with DOC. DOCX is not the only format available, only the default when you first install Word 2007. Anyone who saves documents in DOCX format runs the risk that others may not be able to open the file. Word 2007 will also save files in the older DOC format if you specifically tell it to, and the default can be changed.
Anyone using Word 2003, Word 2002, or Word 2000 may be able to open a DOCX file by first downloading and installing some free software. "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for 2007 Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint File Formats" will convert MOST of the data in a DOCX file to DOC format. (See the note later in this article about math formulas that do not get converted properly.)
Word for Macintosh cannot (yet) read DOCX files. However, several third-party DOCX-to-DOC format converters exist for Macintosh systems. I have used DocXConverter 1.3, which is available at http://downloads.zdnet.co.uk/0,1000000375,39313862s,00.htm.
The problem would first seem simple: convert the text back to DOC format. However, a second problem arises if math formulas or special characters are involved. Luckily, this will affect only a minority of authors. It seems that Word 2007 creates all math formulas in a manner that cannot be converted back to earlier formats. Some special characters, such as Greek letters, also do not translate properly.
Science Magazine, the journal of the America Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), itself the largest scientific society in the world, has updated its authoring guidelines. The news is not good for anyone using Word 2007:
Because of changes Microsoft has made in its recent Word release that are incompatible with our internal workflow, which was built around previous versions of the software, Science cannot at present accept any files in the new .docx format produced through Microsoft Word 2007, either for initial submission or for revision. Users of this release of Word should convert these files to a format compatible with Word 2003 or Word for Macintosh 2004 (or, for initial submission, to a PDF file) before submitting to Science.
Science also states:
Users of Word 2007 should also be aware that equations created with the default equation editor included in Microsoft Word 2007 will be unacceptable in revision, even if the file is converted to a format compatible with earlier versions of Word; this is because conversion will render equations as graphics and prevent electronic printing of equations, and because the default equation editor packaged with Word 2007 -- for reasons that, quite frankly, utterly baffle us -- was not designed to be compatible with MathML. Regrettably, we will be forced to return any revised manuscript created with the Word 2007 default equation editor to authors for re-editing. To get around this, please use the MathType equation editor or the equation editor included in previous versions of Microsoft Word.
Nature Magazine seems to have the same issues. Here is an excerpt from Nature's newly-revised guidelines for authors:
We currently cannot accept files saved in Microsoft Office 2007 formats. Equations and special characters (for example, Greek letters) cannot be edited and are incompatible with Nature's own editing and typesetting programs.
I have not yet heard of any guidelines from genealogy publications. However, be aware that use of DOCX format will create numerous compatibility problems.
I am sure this problem will eventually fade away as more and more new programs add DOCX format to their list of acceptable formats. However, in the year 2007, I'd suggest that you stick with an older version of Word, use a different word processor, or always store Word 2007 documents in DOC format, while also avoiding math formulas and special characters.
NOTE: This article was written with OpenOffice.org version 2.2.0.