Have you recently upgraded to Word 2013? Documents created in earlier versions of Word are compatible with Word 2013, but the new features in Word 2013 will not be available in your older documents unless you convert them to the latest version.

If you have documents from earlier versions of Word that you need to refer to or change, you may want to convert them to the latest version. When you open an older document in Word 2013, you will see “[Compatibility Mode]” in the title bar next to the filename. Also, if the document is from a version of Word older than Word 2007, the file extension is “.doc”, rather than “.docx”, which is the extension used in Word 2007 and newer versions.

To convert the older document to Word 2013, click the “File” tab.

On the “Info” screen, click “Convert” next to “Compatibility Mode”.

The following dialog box displays, warning you that your document will be upgraded to the newest file format. You are cautioned about minor layout changes that might happen and that your older document will be replaced by the converted version. Click “OK” to convert the document. If you decide you don’t want to convert the document, click “Cancel”.


NOTE: If you don’t want to be asked about this every time you convert a document, select the “Do not ask me again about converting documents” check box so there is a check mark in the box. However, you will not be able to cancel the conversion once you click the “Convert” button on the “Info” screen.

When you convert the document, the extension, .doc, does not change to .docx yet. However, when you save your document, the .docx extension is automatically added to the document, replacing the .doc extension. If you haven’t saved the document since you converted it, and you close Word, you are asked if you want to save your changes. Click “Save” if you want to save the changes you made to your document and convert it to the latest version. At this point, the extension on your document changes to .docx.

If you don’t want to replace the original, older document, you can save the file separately with the .docx extension, without using the “Convert” feature. To do this, click the “File” tab and click “Save As” on the backstage screen. The “Save As” dialog box displays.

The new document can be saved with the same filename in the same directory as the original file, but with the new extension (.docx), or you can navigate to a different directory in which to save the new file. Once you’ve decided where to save the new file, make sure “Word Document (*.docx)” is selected from the “Save as type” drop-down list. Click “Save”.

NOTE: Once you convert an older document (prior to Word 2007) to Word 2013, people using the older version of Word will not be able to open the document unless you convert it back to a “.doc” file.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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