I have several huge Word documents under Subversion version control. However, this would be a lot more useful when using the XML format instead of the binary one. At first sight, saving these files in Word's XML format seems to retain formatting (tables, figures, TOC, references, citations, ... ) and work fine. But, I like to be sure, so:

  1. Is all formatting kept when converting a Word 2010 document to XML format?

  2. Is there a difference in features I can use with a document in the XML format?

  3. Will my content and formatting be safe in the future and not break or disappear after 2 weeks of edits?

Clarification: I'm referring to the XML format obtained when doing Save as... Word XML Document (*.xml) (so this is a real XML file).

Thanks in advance!

Note: These documents were originally authored in Word 2007, and currently run in Compatibility Mode in Word 2010. Not sure if that would make a difference.

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    You do understand that a file with the .docx extension will still be a binary file right? Only the archive itself is of an xml format. In general the format should be exactly the same. You should backup the original files and archive them. The good news is you can simply create a new file with the .docx extension. – Ramhound Oct 8 '13 at 15:49
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    This is a pretty hard question to answer with certainty. There are some behaviour differences, but the ones I know about are mainly to do with LINK & INCLUDEPICTURE fields and mailmerge. If you aren't using them, you probably have less to worry about, but I doubt if anyone knows all the differences. There has also been a major change to the layout engine in Word 2013 - a significant difference in that version is that almost all the per-document "compatibility options" have gone. So IMO no-one but you can really assess the risk. I'd probably keep saving in both formats until I felt safe. – user181946 Oct 8 '13 at 15:53
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    Thanks for the comments and sorry for the confusion: I mean the XML format you get when doing Save as Word XML document (see clarification). – Torious Oct 8 '13 at 16:32

Compatibility mode and varying Word versions aside, the XML format in question is actually the Flat OPC format. It is direct conversion of a Open XML document to a single XML file. Instead of parts being different files inside a ZIP file they are child elements inside the XML file. There should be no formatting loss or problems at all as it's just a different representation of the same data found in a regular DOCX document.

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