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DOC document file – A complete beginners guide

by Casey Schmidt  |  October 3, 2019

3 min. read
Hands writing notes while on a laptop.

The DOC file is a stable document file that is still widely popular today. It has many uses and features and is highly accessible. Learn more about how it can be used and when to consider using a different file type.

What is a DOC file?

DOC is the official document file used in Microsoft Word. A DOC file contains text, images and graphs. It can be opened by many different programs and users can change printing options once it’s opened. Use a DOC file to increase compatibility with users.

Why use a DOC file?

A DOC file should be used when someone needs to edit text, images, formatting or printing settings. It should also be used when the goal of the file creation is to reach the most users, as the majority are able to open a DOC file.

The DOC file icon.
A DOC file is used to edit text and images.

Because Microsoft Office favors the DOC file for word processing, there’s a lot of value in using DOC files. For example, the other Microsoft programs such as Excel are more in-sync with a DOC file if a user needs to add information from different areas. Companies who implemented the Microsoft Office Suite organization-wide will benefit from DOC because all team members will be able to open the files using the programs in place.

How to use the DOC file

As mentioned above, the DOC file is opened as a standard by the Microsoft Word program. However, it’s not the only way to open it. For users and companies not using Microsoft Office, there are alternatives. There are downloadable systems that specialize in opening document files and most of them are free to use. A popular option is Google Drive, which lets users upload DOC files into Google Docs. The similarities between Google and Microsoft are nearly identical but there are a few tweaks Word can make that Google can’t.

If you have a DOC file that needs to be a different format, you can convert the file from DOC into whichever extension you wish. For example, here’s how to convert a DOC file to PDF using Microsoft Word:

  1. Open the DOC file of choice into Microsoft Word
  2. Click ‘File’, then click ‘Save as’
  3. Click the location you wish to save the file to (desktop, etc)
  4. Name the file in the space provided, then from the dropdown menu that reads ‘Word Document (.doc)’, select PDF
A picture of an office DOC being saved as a PDF.
A DOC can easily convert to a PDF.

When to use a different file type

The main reason people need different document file types is when they’re sending something to a person or company who prefers something other than DOC. For example, in a professional setting it’s much more likely to use PDF as a default over DOC. The edit functions of DOC make them inferior in a lot of business areas, as documents are meant to be unedited in business.

The DOC file loses some of its value in situations where editing is a negative rather than a positive. Official documents and important logs such as guides, terms, agreements and contracts are meant to stay unedited when they’re sent to customers. This is when the DOC is a weakness for a company.

The DOC file has a lot of strengths in that it’s still widely accessible to many different users. Take into consideration the types of projects you’re undergoing and the level of technical knowledge users on the other end have before beginning.