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With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company.
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Elizabeth recently upgraded her version of Word. She got a new computer that came with the newer version of Word installed. She noticed that one of her documents—a family history manuscript—doesn't look the same on the newer version of Word as it did on the older version and she was wondering why.
There are two possible causes for this. The first has to do with fonts and the second with printers. It is possible that the newer system has different fonts on it than the older system does, and this affects the way that the text flows in the document. Even if you checked to make sure that the same fonts are on the new system as the old, there could still be differences. Most notably, the old system could have used TrueType fonts, and the new system may use OpenType fonts. If the metric tables aren't exactly the same for the OpenType version of the font as they were for the TrueType version, then the text flow could occur differently on the new system. (Metric tables define how different characters in a font are positioned in relation to each other. They are created by whoever creates the font and can't be changed by mere mortals like you and me.)
The second and more likely culprit is your printer. When people get new computers, they often get new printers. New printers mean new printer drivers, and printer drivers affect how fonts are displayed and printed in Word. This means that the same document won't look the same when printed on different printers; there is no way around it.
Because Word works so closely with both the font definitions (the metric tables) and the printer drivers on various systems, the only way you can ensure that a document will look exactly the same on two different systems is to not use Word. Instead, convert your document into a PDF file using a program like Adobe Acrobat.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (75) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.
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