File Sizes in Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 15, 2013)


If you have been a long-time Word user, you may have noticed that file sizes for Word documents have grown over the years. To examine how versions have affected file sizes, we did some testing. We created the exact same document in the last four versions of Word. In each case, the document contained only a single character: a space. The results are as follows:

Version File Size
Word 97: 19,456 bytes
Word 2000: 19,456 bytes
Word 2002: 24,064 bytes
Word 2003: 19,968 bytes

As you can see, the files are quite large when you consider that only a single character is being saved in the document. (The growth is really amazing if you look back to Word 6, where the size for the same file was only 9,216 bytes.) For most users, this growth in document file sizes from one version to the next won't affect them much. The size differences appear to be related to additional features introduced with each new version, and the data that must be saved with the document for that feature.

It is encouraging to see that file sizes have been going down in recent versions. There was a large increase in file size from Word 2000 to Word 2002, and then the reduction in file size from Word 2002 through Word 2003.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (196) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

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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What is four less than 8?

2015-01-09 05:11:15

Joy Fernandez

Thanks! I am using Word 2013. Where I can I find the versioning option so that I can disable it? Is there?

2015-01-08 22:58:37


Joy: It can affect the size, particularly if you have versioning enabled.


2015-01-08 22:28:16

Joy Fernandez

Hi, may I ask does the number of times you revised a word document affects the file size? Say you revised a document 20 times then it also increases the file size. I just noticed in my template. Thanks!

2013-06-15 10:53:48



May well be, but this tip (and, indeed, this whole site) is for the older versions of Word. If you want tips related to the newer versions of the software, you'll find this site appropriate:


2013-06-15 10:16:33

Stephen Eccleston


This may have been more useful if it included the Word 2007 & 2010 file sizes as well.

In documents that contain much more than just a space, I have found that 2007 & 2010 file size can be just 10-20% of the 2003 file size. Plus opening both 2003 & 2007 files in 2007 can be much faster - particularly when the file contains many tables and pictures.

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