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Microsoft Office uses closed document standards, and anyone who wants to read/write compatible files with a different program has to reverse engineer the formats. This process is often imperfect.

However, many people in school or business regularly have to send/receive documents in Office formats. For example, I have had to submit resumes in Word format, and of course I wanted them to look perfect.

For an Ubuntu user, what program or web application creates the most MS Office-compatible documents?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I think as far as support for the legacy binary MS Office formats go, OpenOffice.org is your best bet. Support for creating those files is usually much better than for reading, so most compatibility issues you will encounter are usually on the "read a file created with MS Office" side, instead of "read a file in MS Office which was created by OpenOffice". Usually implementations aren't dead wrong but rather incomplete, so opening files might cause them to lose some features or fidelity, but creating usually is painless.

Other office suites you may want to try (although they don't have the extensive history and struggle for MS Office support as OOo) are KOffice and GNOME Office.

Also note that the binary file format specifications are all made public under Microsoft's Open Specification Promise so they're not entirely1 closed for quite a while anymore. Support will likely get better.


1 There are still some parts that require either reverse-engineering of previous Office versions or some guesswork2, but for the most part the specifications are complete and publicly accessible.

2 I also don't think most people need the compatibility "features", such as "line spacing as in Word 5.5" or similar so that's essentially a moot point for most practical implementations.

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"OOo/KOffice/others" one of those other would be AbiWord I guess –  Joakim Elofsson Aug 4 '09 at 16:53
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Also, StarOffice is a commercial version of OpenOffice, and they offer additional utilities and support that may improve the experience. (Never used it, but I do use OpenOffice and have been very happy with it...) Since it's a commercial product it might bypass some FLOSS-haters, and at $35 it's a much better value prop... –  GalacticCowboy Aug 4 '09 at 17:46
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One thing you might add to this answer is that the default-available fonts are likely not to be available at the recipient's side (presumably a Windows + MS Office user). Choosing from the Microsoft TrueType Core Fonts (package name msttcorefonts) helps increase the changes of reasonably well-reproduced formatting. (Alternatively, you might assume that anyone who insists on resumes in .doc-format, most likely won't even know the difference when you send a pdf...) –  yungchin Aug 4 '09 at 22:59
    
@yungchin: There people who would like to make notes inside documents and therefore would reject pdfs. –  Christian Aug 11 '09 at 17:45
    
Just stumbled on this question again. Want to revise your answer to LibreOffice, or at least mention it? –  Nathan Long Aug 25 at 19:04

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