Saving, printing and publishing data

This page provides information on matters related to saving, printing and publishing a word processor document, such as:

  • compatibility of document files between different software products and versions
  • saving in a file format other than the default format in the software
  • managing automatic backups
  • special features of printing a document and
  • ways of publishing the document.

Saving a document

Compatibility of document files

There is often a certain extent of “backward compatibility” between different versions of most software products – including word processors. This means that a document created with an earlier software version can usually be at least opened with the newer version of the software. On the other hand, it is possible that files created with newer versions cannot be opened at all with older software.

Documents saved using new versions of Word can usually be opened and edited quit well with other word processors, such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice Writer, as long as you choose the default saving format or one of the other most common file formats. However, if the recipient wants to open the document using the old Word 2003 version, you should save the file in a format known by the program.

If you are using a newer version of Word and want to make sure that your document can be opened using other software as well, you should choose the file format according to the recipient and purpose of use. Click the round Office button (Word 2007) or File button (Word 2010 ->) in the top left corner. Then click the Save As button in the menu. You can choose one of the following, for example:


.docx Word’s default file format, compatible with most modern word processors. However, not all formatting and properties is necessarily transmitted between different programs!
.rtf A file saved in the RTF format can be opened and edited using almost any program whatsoever. However, special formatting (such as end notes, foot notes or comments) might not be correctly saved, even with the latest software. Nevertheless, .rtf is often a recommendable file format if you do not know which program your reader is using.
.odt ODT, or OpenDocument Text, is a platform-independent, open file format used by the new versions of OpenOffice and LibreOffice Writer, for example, as the default format. ODT aims to, and succeeds in, preserve formatting made in different software quite well, which makes it the recommended format between people using different software products. However, programs made before 2008 might not master the file format!
.pdf PDF, or Portable Document Format, is the most recommended file format if you a) want all formatting to be displayed exactly the same as on your screen and b) the reader does not need to edit your text. Additional information on saving as PDF was presented in the second chapter.


Automatic backups

Most word processors offer an automated backup function that saves the file you have edited at certain intervals (such as once every 10 minutes). If the program freezes and you need to force it to close (additional information on closing non-responding programs), automatic backup displays the latest saved version when you re-open the program.

Word, for example, creates a large number of backup files of the edited document with the automatic backup function. The location of these files is usually the same as the location of the actual document saved by you. You can identify the backup files based on the file name and last edit date: usually the name includes a tilde character (~), etc., to indicate that it is a backup file. Usually, backup files are deleted when you save your file and close the program in a controlled way. On the other hand, if the program used “crashes”, it is possible that the files will remain in the directory. If you want, you can change the folder of automatic backups in Word from the above mentioned Options menu.

Even if they are convenient, automatic backups do not remove the need for keeping actual backups! Therefore, take care of backups often enough (additional information on backups)!

Special features of printing a document

When printing a document, you can, for example, choose the pages to print, number of copies, printing order and whether to print the document in black and white or colour. If you do not adjust any settings in the printing dialog box, the program automatically prints the entire document.

To print with newer versions of Word or LibreOffice, click the File button at the top left corner and select Print in the menu which appears. This opens a dialog box for adjusting the settings of printing the document. For example, with the Collate option, the program sorts the printouts in the order of your choice; for example, if you set the number of copies as “2” and select Collate, the printer prints copies of a three-letter document, for example, in the order “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3”. If this option is not selected, the pages will be printed in the order “1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3”.

When printing a long document, you should always print out a draft printout of a few pages to ensure that the printing result is as desired. When printing in computer classrooms, even the pages of a badly printed work will be deducted in full from your printing balance!

Publishing a document in different formats

Instead of conventional paper printing, you increasingly need to be able to print out an essay, assignment, thesis or something else in electronic format. Aspects that should be taken into account when publishing a document are listed below:

  • Publish your work in the appropriate file format: if the information to be published is text-only, you can paste the text as such to an e-mail message. If the document includes images and other such materials besides text, ensure that the layout is retained in the printout: use the PDF or RTF file format, for example.
  • Consider publishing your work online: if it is extensive and you want broader publicity for it, consider converting the work from document format to hypertext. In most subjects studied at the University of Helsinki, theses are handed in and published only in electronic format via the eThesis service.