Use Word 2013 to open documents created in earlier versions of Word

When you open a document in Microsoft Word 2013 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 2013 are available while you work with a document, so that people using earlier 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 2013, it’s in one of these modes:

  • Word 2013
  • Word 2010 Compatibility Mode
  • Word 2007 Compatibility Mode
  • Word 97-2003 Compatibility Mode

To determine which mode the document is in, check the document title bar. If [Compatibility Mode] appears after the file name, the document is in Word 2007 Compatibility Mode, Word 2010 Compatibility Mode, or Word 97-2003 Compatibility Mode. To determine which, do the following:

  1. Click File.
  2. Click Info.
  3. In the Inspect Document section, click Check for Issues, and then click Check Compatibility.
  4. 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’re in Word 2013 mode and all features are available.

Feature availability in each mode

Feature 97-2003 2007 2010 2013
Apps for Office Red X Red X Red X Green check
Web video Red X Red X Red X Green check
New numbering formats Red X Red X Green check Green check
New shapes and text boxes Red X Red X Green check Green check
Text effects Red X Red X Green check Green check
Alternative text on tables Red X Red X Green check Green check
OpenType features Red X Red X Green check Green check
Blocking authors Red X Red X Green check Green check
New WordArt effects Red X Red X Green check Green check
New content controls Red X Red X Green check Green check
Word 2007 Content controls Red X Green check Green check Green check
Themes Red X Green check Green check Green check
Major/minor fonts Red X Green check Green check Green check
Tracked moves Red X Green check Green check Green check
Margin tabs Red X Green check Green check Green check
SmartArt graphics Red X Green check Green check Green check
Office 2007 charts Red X Green check Green check Green check
Open XML Embedded objects Red X Green check Green check Green check
Building blocks Red X Green check Green check Green check
Bibliography and citations Red X Green check Green check Green check
Equations Red X Green check Green check Green check
Relative text boxes Red X Green check 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 Green check
Previous-version WordArt Green check Green check Red X Red X
Previous-version diagrams Green check Red X Red X Red X
Previous-version charts Green check Red X Red X Red X

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Convert a document to the Word 2013 mode

You can work in Compatibility Mode or you can convert your document to the Word 2013 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 2013. 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 2013. 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 2013.

  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 2013 mode, click Save As and then choose the location and the folder where you want to save the new copy. Type a new name for the document in the File name box, and click Word Document in the Save as type list. Make sure the checkbox next to Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word is unchecked.

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Word 2013