Use Word 2010 to open documents created in earlier versions of Word

When you open a document in Microsoft Word 2010 that was created in an earlier version of Word, Compatibility Mode is turned on, and you see Compatibility Mode in the title bar of the document window.

Compatibility Mode makes sure that no new or enhanced features in Word 2010 are available while you work with a document, so that people who are using previous versions of Word will have full editing capabilities. Compatibility Mode also preserves the layout of the document.

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Document modes and compatibility

When you open a document in Word 2010, it is in one of three modes:

  • Word 2010
  • Word 2007 Compatibility Mode
  • Word 97-2003 Compatibility Mode

To determine which mode the document is in, check the document's title bar. If (Compatibility Mode) appears after the file name, the document is in either Word 2007 Compatibility Mode or Word 97-2003 Compatibility Mode. To determine which, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab.
  1. Click Info.
  2. In the Prepare for Sharing section, click Check for Issues, and then click Check Compatibility.
  3. Click Select versions to show.

A check mark appears next to the name of the mode that the document is in.

If the title bar does not display (Compatibility Mode), you are in Word 2010 mode and all features are available.

 Note   If you are using Microsoft Word Starter 2010, be aware that not all the features listed for Word 2010 are supported in Word Starter. For more information about the features available in Word Starter, see Word Starter feature support.

Feature availability in each mode

Feature 97-2003 2007 2010
New numbering formats Red X Red X Green check
New shapes and text boxes Red X Red X Green check
Text effects Red X Red X Green check
Alternative text on tables Red X Red X Green check
OpenType features Red X Red X Green check
Blocking authors Red X Red X Green check
New WordArt effects Red X Red X Green check
New content controls Red X Red X Green check
Word 2007 Content controls Red X Green check Green check
Themes Red X Green check Green check
Major/minor fonts Red X Green check Green check
Tracked moves Red X Green check Green check
Margin tabs Red X Green check Green check
SmartArt graphics Red X Green check Green check
Office 2007 charts Red X Green check Green check
Open XML Embedded objects Red X Green check Green check
Building blocks Red X Green check Green check
Bibliography and citations Red X Green check Green check
Equations Red X Green check Green check
Relative text boxes Red X Green check Green check
Custom XML (Extensible Markup Language (XML): A condensed form of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) that enables developers to create customized tags that offer flexibility in organizing and presenting information.) Red X Green check Green check
Previous-version WordArt Green check Green check Red X
Previous-version diagrams Green check Red X Red X
Previous-version charts Green check Red X Red X

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Convert a document to the Word 2010 mode

You can work in Compatibility Mode or you can convert your document to the Word 2010 file format. The Word Convert command clears the compatibility options so that the document layout appears as it would if it had been created in Word 2010. If the file is in .doc format, the Convert command also upgrades the file to the .docx format.

Converting your document lets you access the new and enhanced features in Word 2010. However, people who are using earlier versions of Word might be prevented from or have difficulty editing certain portions of the document that were created by using new or enhanced features in Word 2010.

  1. Click the File tab.
  1. Do one of the following:
    • To convert the document without saving a copy, click Info, and then click Convert.
    • To create a new copy of the document in Word 2010 mode, click Save As, type a new name for the document in the File name box, and click Word Document in the Save as type list.

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Applies to:
Word 2010