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Which document type should I use for my family?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 22, 1999

Question

I am preparing family history and journal material to share with relatives and would like to distribute them through the medium of CD. In this way, I don't have to print out anything, but they can do so according to what interests them. However, with the many and varied word processors from computer to computer, what is the most universal file extension to use. I am aware of the "Word for windows," "Rich text format (rtf)," "text document" and "text document-MS Dos format", these all having been found on my WordPad program that comes with Windows. Some popular word processors are able to transfer between each other, while others are not, but I also don't want the recipient to have to reformat the page before they print it. Any suggestions will be helpful.

-Margaret

Answer

This question was answered on November 22, 1999. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


Your situation is a very familiar one for anyone that has ever had to distribute documents to a wide variety of people The solution to your problem could be very simple, however, if all of the parties in question are using Windows 95, 98 or NT WordPad is a small word processor that is included with all versions of Windows 95, 98 and NT that uses the Microsoft Word file format If you create the documents in Word and test them in WordPad before you distribute them, you should be able to meet all of your objectives If any of the users are on the Macintosh platform or the older Windows 3.X you may run into problems

A completely different approach may be a much better solution for you Instead of the time and expense of creating and mailing CD’s that would have to be replaced if you ever make any changes, you may want to consider posting this information at a web site This would eliminate the need for a common program and allow you to continually make changes and updates to the information without having to recreate a bunch of CDs Your family members could also get the information much faster and print anything that they wanted right from the web site Since there are many options for free web sites, including GeoCities (www.geocities.com) and Xoom (www.xoom.com), this option would cost you nothing instead of the cost of the CDs and postage Even if a family member did not have Internet access, they could go to a friend’s house or to a public library to view and print out your work.

If you really want to be a “geek” you could create a Portable Document Format (PDF) file that allows you to publish any digital document on the Web in its original form without any loss of formatting Many web sites use this method for allowing users to download forms such as tax return forms, etc To convert your documents you will need to purchase

<a href="http://www.support4free.com/softgallery.cfm"><font color="#003399">Adobe Acrobat (@$220),

</font></a>

which is available at your favorite software store or online Your family members would then need to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader from the Adobe web site

<a href="http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readermain.html"><font color="#003399">http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readermain.html

</font></a>

in order to make use of the information This is the professional way to make sure that all of your users can see your documents in the exact layout that you intended.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 22, 1999

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