Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Formatting Differences between Word Versions.

Formatting Differences between Word Versions

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 21, 2018)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Greg's office has a mixture of machines, some running Office 2000 and others running Office 2003. The folks in the office frequently have to exchange documents for editing. Whenever Greg receives a document prepared with Word 2000 and opens it in Word 2003, the line spacing and even the font spacing are frequently different, so much so that the pagination can be completely different on the two versions. Greg is wondering what causes this and if there is a cure.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining how Word renders a document—so many that it is sometimes hard to pinpoint the cause for any given problem. There are a couple of things you can check out, however.

One possible cause is the printer drivers used on the different machines. Different printer drivers can render different fonts in subtly different ways, which can affect pagination over the course of a document. Check to make sure that the two machines have the same version of printer driver, and that they are both using the same printer driver.

Once the printer drivers are the same, you will need to make sure that both versions of Word use the printer driver to do their layout. In Word 2003, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Compatibility tab is displayed.
  3. Using the Recommended Options For drop-down list, choose Microsoft Word 2000. This ensures that Word 2003 will be consistent with some of the rendering options used in Word 2000.
  4. Scroll through the list of options and make sure that the Use Printer Metrics to Lay Out Document check box is selected.
  5. Click OK.

Now, in Word 2000, follow steps 1, 2, 4, and 5. Hopefully the printed versions on the two machines will now be much closer to identical.

If that still doesn't work, then you might try round-tripping the document through the RTF filter. Save the document in RTF format, then reload it from the RTF file. This may help to clear up any formatting idiosyncrasies that may have crept into the document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (358) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Formatting Differences between Word Versions.

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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