Doc (computing)

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The doc format is a computer file format for text documents.

Microsoft Word Binary File Format[edit]

Binary DOC files often contain more text formatting information (as well as scripts and undo information) than some other document file formats like Rich Text Format and Hypertext Markup Language, but are usually less widely compatible.

The DOC files created with Microsoft Word versions differ. Microsoft Word versions before Word 97 ("8.0") used a different format from the OLE/CFBF-based Microsoft Word 97 – 2003.

In Microsoft Word 2007 and later, the binary file format was replaced as the default format by the Office Open XML format, though Microsoft Word can still produce DOC files.

Application support[edit]

The DOC format is native to Microsoft Word. Other word processors, such as Writer, IBM Lotus Symphony, Apple Pages and AbiWord, can also create and read DOC files, although with some limitations. Command line programs for Unix-like operating systems that can convert files from the DOC format to plain text or other standard formats include the wv library, which itself is used directly by AbiWord.


Because the DOC file format was a closed specification for many years, inconsistent handling of the format persists and may cause some loss of formatting information when handling the same file with multiple word processing programs. Some specifications for Microsoft Office 97 binary file formats were published in 1997 under a restrictive license, but these specifications were removed from online download in 1999.[1][2][3][4] Specifications of later versions of Microsoft Office binary file formats were not publicly available. The DOC format specification was available from Microsoft on request[5] since 2006[6] under restrictive RAND-Z terms until February 2008. Sun Microsystems and reverse engineered the file format.[7] On February 15, 2008, Microsoft released a .DOC format specification[8][9][10] under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise.[11][12] However, this specification does not describe all of the features used by DOC format and reverse engineered work remains necessary.[13] Since 2008 the specification has been updated several times; the latest change was made in November 2019.

The format used in earlier, pre-97 ("1.0" 1989 through "7.0" 1995) versions of Word are less known, but both OpenOffice and LibreOffice contain open-source code for reading these formats. The format is probably related to the "Stream" format found in similar Excel versions.[14] Word 95 also seems to have an OLE-wrapped form

Other file formats[edit]

Some historical documentations may use the DOC filename extension for plain-text file format. The DOC filename extension was also used in historical versions of WordPerfect for its proprietary format.

Some software applications use the name DOC in combination with other words (such as the name of software manufacturer) for different file formats. As an example, on the Palm OS, DOC is shorthand for PalmDoc, a completely unrelated format (commonly using PDB filename extension) used to encode text files such as ebooks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Comparing ODF and OOXML" (pdf). 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  2. ^ Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts, 2006, retrieved 2011-05-23
  3. ^ "A Word 8 converter for Unix". Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  4. ^ "Microsoft Word 97 Binary File Format". Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  5. ^ "Royalty-free specifications for Microsoft Office binary file formats". Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  6. ^ "Mapping documents in the binary format (.doc; .xls; .ppt) to the Open XML format". 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  7. ^ "Microsoft Compound Document Format" (PDF). 2007-08-07.
  8. ^ MS-DOC: Word (.doc) Binary File Format, 2019-11-19, retrieved 2020-02-25
  9. ^ Microsoft Office Binary (doc, xls, ppt) File Formats, 2008-02-15, archived from the original on 2008-02-18
  10. ^ "Microsoft Office Word 97 - 2007 Binary File Format Specification (*.doc)" (PDF). Microsoft Corporation. 2008.
  11. ^ "Microsoft Open Specification Promise". Microsoft Corporation. March 23, 2009.
  12. ^ "How to extract information from Office files by using Office file formats and schemas". Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  13. ^ Joel Spolsky. "Why are the Microsoft Office file formats so complicated? (And some workarounds)". Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  14. ^ "LibreOffice/core". GitHub.

External links[edit]