A word about Word

Many of you send me homeworks by e-mail. This is OK. We’ll save paper. You don’t print it, and I won’t print it. I’ll grade it on-screen and provide you with the result, but no detailed comments.

However, some of the attachments are doc or docx documents (Microsoft Word). Many of you probably already noticed that Word is highly incompatible with other versions of Word and other platforms (e.g., Mac OS), not to mention other programs such as OpenOffice or Libreoffice. The new docx format is even worse in its compatibility issues than the older doc format.

The best way to avoid the daily frustration associated with Word is not to use it, but this is your choice.I do not use Microsoft Word, nor do I own a copy. Actually, I do not use Windows at all any longer.

I got to a point where I feel that it is the sender’s responsibility to make sure I can open the document sent to me. If you send me a docx file, I will do my best to read it. However, if parts get lost in the conversion process, I cannot help it. If vital parts that earn a score get lost this way, I cannot help it.

Many formats, first and foremost PDF, can be opened in any operating system. Plain html is surprisingly versatile. RTF is a viable alternative, it can even handle tables and figures.

So, if you send me a file, please make sure I can read it.


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