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My standard response to receiving Microsoft Office attachments

I’m sorry, but I was unable to read the attachment you sent me because you sent it in Microsoft’s proprietary Word (Excel, Powerpoint) format.

Microsoft has been steadily changing the format of their Office documents with every release of Microsoft Office. They have not released the details of these formats, which means the only program that can reliably read the file you sent is the same version of Microsoft Office that you wrote it with (or newer). People with older versions of Microsoft Office, or people who don’t own any version, cannot easily read these files.

This means we cannot exchange information until one of two things happens:

1. the information is sent to me in a standard format that I can read with a program of my choice.

2. I purchase and install the newest version of Microsoft Office (and anything else I need to run it).

Good standard formats to use are plain text, ODF, and PDF (if your document requires formatting information), and I humbly request that you not send Microsoft Office attachments to anybody in the future. Some people might feel that not owning the latest version of Microsoft Office is somehow their fault, and they’re put in an awkward position.

(For more information, see

If you’re still using Microsoft Office, do yourself a favour and install LibreOffice.

Written by Likes to Ramble


  1. Dan Soucy · June 17, 2012

    the libreoffice developers have made a pretty strong effort to reverse-engineer all of microsoft’s bullshit, but

    a) there won’t ever be 100% compatibility, and

    b) it _might_ be illegal.

    that said, there are definitely times when a pdf is completely inappropriate. if you expect me to print this form right away, or if you’re sending me a novella, then pdf is great. otherwise, plaintext would almost certainly be preferable.

  2. Connor · May 27, 2012

    I should be using LibreOffice, but I’m stuck on an older version of OpenOffice right now because I’m behind the times. That said, I prefer receiving DOCX to PDF. Of course, I’d prefer something more standard (ODT, anyone?), but my word processor isn’t Microsoft Office and still handles DOCX just fine. Plus it’s easier to edit or copy from than a PDF.

  3. Bran Rainey · November 14, 2011

    I loathe people who send me doc or docx or whatever the hell new format Office uses nowadays. It nearly always contains a bunch of plain text that could’ve been in a damn txt file if they had any brains.

  4. Mike · November 14, 2011


    This comment has been edited by: Dan Soucy

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