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Managing and Sharing Office Files

In this chapter from Office 2016 In Depth, you'll learn about the Office file formats used in each of the Office applications. You'll also learn your options for managing and sharing files.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

The Microsoft Office 2016 applications provide you with all the tools you need to create documents, presentations, workbooks, and publications. After you create your various files using the Office applications, it is up to you to manage your files and share them with colleagues and co-workers.

In this chapter, we take a look at the Office file formats used in each of the Office applications. We also look at your options for managing and sharing files.

Understanding Office File Formats

The default file formats for each of the Office applications (all except for OneNote) take advantage of the open XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file standards. The file formats provide benefits in terms of file compaction, improved damage recovery, better detection of files containing macros, and better compatibility with other vendor software.

Although some backward-compatibility issues may be involved when you attempt to share a file using one of these file formats with a user who still works with an earlier version of a particular Office application (think pre-Office 2007 versions), most problems have been ironed out. Users still working with earlier versions of the Office applications can take advantage of various conversion utilities and software updates that enable them to convert or directly open a file using one of the new file formats.

You can also save your files in file formats that offer backward compatibility for co-workers still using older versions of the Office applications. And the Office applications (such as Word and Excel) provide you with compatibility-checking tools that help negate any issues with files shared with users of legacy Office applications.

As already mentioned, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint use the open XML file formats by default when you save a file in these applications. And you have a number of other file format options in these applications, if needed.

Publisher 2016, on the other hand, saves publications by default in the .pub file type. The .pub file type is “directly” compatible with Publisher 2013, through Publisher 2003. Although Publisher does not enable you to save a publication in the open XML file format (like Word and Excel), you can save Publisher files in the XPS file type, which is an XML file format for “electronic paper.” Publisher also has file types available that you can use to make your publications backward compatible with collaborators who are using previous versions of Microsoft Publisher.

  • enter.jpg For more about Publisher file types, see “Creating a New Publication,” p. 779.

Each of the Office applications gives you options in terms of saving a file in different file formats. The following lists provide an overview of some of the file types used in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively.


File Extension



XML file type; default file type for Word 2010, 2013, and 2016 documents


XML file type; macro-enabled document


XML file type; Word template


XML file type; macro-enabled Word template


Binary file type; document compatibility with Word 97-2003


Binary file type; template compatibility with Word 97-2003


File Extension



XML file type; default file type for Excel 2010, 2013, and 2016 workbooks


XML file type; macro-enabled workbook


XML file type; Excel template


XML file type; macro-enabled Excel template


Binary file type; document compatibility with Excel 97-2003


Binary file type; template compatibility with Excel 97-2003


File Extension



XML file type; default file type for PowerPoint 2010, 2013, and 2016 presentations


XML file type; macro-enabled presentation


XML file type; PowerPoint template


XML file type; macro-enabled PowerPoint template


XML file type; PowerPoint show


XML file type; macro-enabled PowerPoint show


Binary file type; presentation compatibility with PowerPoint 97-2003


Binary file type; template compatibility with PowerPoint 97-2003

The Office 2016 applications also provide other file formats that make it simple for you to share your documents or workbooks in a format designed for easy viewing. For example, you can use the PDF file format (created by Adobe Systems), which enables users who have the free Adobe Reader software installed on their computer to view your file. Windows 10 also provides a PDF viewer (Windows Reader) to view a PDF document and change from a one-page view to a two-page view. The viewer also enables you to search the PDF document using the Find tool.

The XML electronic paper file format (XPS) also makes it easy for others to view your work. Windows 10 supplies an XPS viewer that enables any Windows 10 user to open and view files in the XPS file type. Figure 3.1 shows the Windows 10 XPS viewer containing a Word document converted to an XPS document.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 A Word XPS document in the XPS viewer.

Both the PDF and the XPS file formats are primarily designed to enable you to share a view of a particular file without requiring that the Office applications themselves be installed on the computer of the user who will view the file. Although both the PDF and XPS file types require a particular viewer type to view the file, viewers such as Acrobat Reader and a number of XPS viewers (including Microsoft’s XPS viewer) are available for free download on the Web. Most operating systems, including Windows 10, have their own native PDF and XPS viewers.

Saving Files as Different File Types

When you create a new Word document, Excel workbook, or PowerPoint presentation, you eventually need to save your work to a file. Each of these applications uses the open XML file format by default. For example, if you save a new Word document and do not change the Save As Type setting, you get a file with the extension .docx.

When you save a file for the first time, the Save As dialog box opens. At a minimum, you must provide a filename for the new file, and you have the option of specifying the location where the file will be saved. You also have control over the file type used when the file is saved. You can select the file type in the Save As Type drop-down list. Figure 3.2 shows the Word Save As dialog box with the Save As Type drop-down list selected.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 Selecting the file type for a Word document.

After selecting the file type, click Save to save the file. When you have saved the file for the first time, the Save button on the application’s Quick Access Toolbar saves the changes that you make to the file as you add and edit information to it.

You can also convert an existing file to another file type by using the Save As dialog box. After you save a file, the only route to the Save As dialog box is via the application’s Backstage. Follow these steps to open the Save As dialog box for a previously saved file:

  1. Select File to access the Backstage.
  2. Select Save As. The Backstage Save As page opens.

  3. Select a place (location) to save the file on the left side of the Save As page. You can choose from My Computer and cloud places such as your OneDrive or a SharePoint site.
  4. Select Browse to choose your location and open the Save As dialog box.
  5. In the Save As dialog box, use the Save As Type drop-down list to specify the file type for the file.
  6. You also have the option of changing the name and location for the newly created file.
  7. Click Save. The Save As dialog box closes.

The file is saved using the new file format you selected. The file has a new name and save location, if you chose to change these settings in the Save As dialog box.

Converting Files to Different File Types

Save As gives you the capability to change a file’s current file type to another file type. Another avenue for converting a particular file to a different file type is the Export page in the Backstage. You can access this page by selecting File and then selecting Export.

The Export page provides two possibilities: Create PDF/XPS Document and Change File Type. By default, the Create PDF/XPS Document is selected on the Export page, so to quickly create a PDF or XPS “copy” of the current file, click the Create PDF/XPS button. The Publish As PDF or XPS dialog box opens (it looks much like the Save As dialog box). By default, the file is saved as a PDF, but you can switch to XPS using the Save As Type drop-down list. Specify a location and a name for the file, and then select Publish to save the PDF (or XPS) file.

The Export page also provides the Change File Type pane, which is accessed by selecting Change File Type on the left side of the Export page. The Change File Type pane makes changing a file’s file type less confusing than just picking a file type from the Save As Type drop-down list in the Save As dialog box. File types are visually represented in the Change File Type pane, and short descriptions of each file type are provided. Figure 3.3 shows the Excel Change File Type pane in the Backstage.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 The Export page and the Excel Change File Type pane.

To create a copy of the current file in a new file type, select one of the alternative file types provided in the Change File Type pane. For example, you might want to save an Excel workbook that is currently in the Excel .xlsx file format (the default) to the Excel 97–2003 workbook file type (.xls) so that you can share the file with a colleague who uses an earlier version of Excel.

Select the new file type in the Change File Type pane, and the Save As dialog box opens. The file type that you chose in the Change File Type pane is selected in the Save As Type drop-down list. You can change the filename or the file location as needed; then click Save to save a copy of the original file in the file type.

Although going directly to the Save As dialog box via the Backstage Save As command might seem to be a faster option than getting to the Save As dialog box via the Change File Type pane, the latter option does a better job of laying out the possibilities. Until you have a good feel for which file type is which on the Save As Type drop-down list in the Save As dialog box, use the Change File Type pane as an aid to selecting the appropriate file type for the file. Obviously, “appropriate” depends on what you are going to do with the file in its alternative file type.

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