OpenOffice loses MS Word formatting!
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:53
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Nov 1, 2007

... or so they say.

Well, it is a common myth that converting MS Word files to OpenOffice and back only works for reasonably simple documents, and that more complex formatted files suffer from loss of format in the process. Is this true?

I would like to receive (via e-mail) MS Word documents from translators who believe that OpenOffice will misformat it. If I get enough response, I'll make the results available.


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:53
German to English
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yes, in certain cases Nov 1, 2007

I've noticed that certain types of formatting are changed when you migrate a file between Word (2000) and OO -- in particular (as well as I can rememer) bullet lists and (maybe) some aspects of tables. It's not the end of the world, but you can't blindly assume perfect compatibility.

I'm curious what the situation is with Word 2007, in light of the fact that the file format is quasi-open (but perhaps OO is not yet compatible with Office 2007).

[Edited at 2007-11-01 22:01]


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:53
Member
French to English
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Yes, I've experienced it too Nov 1, 2007

I'm afraid I too have encountered similar problems, this time with a comparatively simple document — no tables or bulleted lists, just some applied styles and layout. I should add I was working in Word 2003, I don't know which version of OO was being used.

Although it was only a short document, putting right the mess OO made of it actually took me longer than the original translation! I ended up having to copy-&-paste chunks of translation back into the original document, to recover the formatting

I shan't go down that particular route again!

(If you want, I can send you privately the 2 docs for comparison, but of course, I can't post them publicly here!)

[Edited at 2007-11-01 22:13]


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Rodolfo Raya  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:53
English to Spanish
Depends on your version of OpenOffice Nov 2, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:
Well, it is a common myth that converting MS Word files to OpenOffice and back only works for reasonably simple documents, and that more complex formatted files suffer from loss of format in the process. Is this true?


Hi,

There are several versions of OpenOffice and all loose formatting. However, Novell's version of OpenOffice is the one that preserves the most.

Novell includes a font pack from Agfa that is compatible with the fonts included in Microsoft Office. It also has a special plugin for managing Office 2007 format that is excellent.

Novell's version is available for Windows in a big download (370MB) or included in SUSE/openSUSE Linux.

Regards,
Rodolfo


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:53
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
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I'm not going to install OpenOffice Nov 2, 2007

Hi Samuel,

I like your initiative but I'm not going to install OpenOffice to prove you're right. If you want Microsoft Office-only users to participate you'll have to do the comparison yourselve and maybe you need a serious non-disclosure agreement to receive the best test documents.

Good luck,
Gerard


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:53
Member (2006)
English to Russian
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Graphics... Nov 2, 2007

I won't send it to you, because it's confidential, but I have a Word document with nothing but two images inside. In Word, they stand each after other (thus giving 2 pages), but in OOo they overlap (just one page displaying the second image). I must point, however, that was a scanned document.

Nonetheless, I'm OOo's enthusiast and almost don't use that Microsoft's crap. And the problem is definitely on Microsoft's side: if I create a document in OOo and export to MSO, it opens perfectly and looks in Word exactly the same way as in Writer.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:53
German to English
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Test file Nov 2, 2007

It ought to be possible to make the textual content of a file unrecognizable whilst preserving the format, e.g. by searching for and replacing any character with "x" and deleting the document properties information.

Marc


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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:53
Member (2005)
English to Polish
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I'm going to install every update of OpenOffice ;-) Nov 2, 2007

Because it helps me in many ways:

1. It is able to remove passwords from DOC files I get from translation agencies who are unaware that they send me password protected files, and my usual workflow is to translate files using a CAT tool.

2. It is actually able to fix what Word messes up in files from OCR software, like section breaks inserting empty pages and refusing to be removed, and similar glitches, like margins in a section which Word refuses to change.

My experience is contrary to the myth that OpenOffice Writer will break Word formatting. It is possible in some cases, but these are an exception, not the rule.
There can be layout problems between different versions of Word, and even between different instances of the same version of Word, because different users have different printer drivers installed, and drivers affect doc layout in some ways.

Granted, OpenOffice Writer can break an RTF document from Word. This is my experience. But it handles the DOC format much better than RTF, and in very many cases much better than Word itself.

My 0,03 PLN.

Piotr


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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:53
Member (2005)
English to Polish
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Re: Graphics Nov 2, 2007

I did DTP of long documents in Writer and it all depends on the graphics specific settings like anchoring, wrap and layer, i.e. whether the image is set to be in the background or in front.

HTH

Piotr


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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:53
Member (2005)
English to Polish
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The actual source of mess... Nov 2, 2007

are mostly the users, not the software.

Sloppy formatting without the use of styles is a source of mess both in Word and Writer.

Working with styles is much more convenient, I experienced it first hand when I did my first DTP project in Writer.

With sloppy manual changes of formatting, you can see all of them as a colorful rainbow of format changes when you convert a doc to the SDL Edit format; or as a multitude of tags in the XLIFF format.

Piotr


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:53
Member (2006)
English to Russian
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Graphics and styles Nov 2, 2007

Piotr Bienkowski wrote:
graphics specific settings like anchoring, wrap and layer, i.e. whether the image is set to be in the background or in front.


Absolutely correct. Unfortunately, negligibly few Word users care about those things.

Right, working with styles is good, but Word's approach to styles is just mockery compared to OOo's. The more I work with OOo and its styles, the more I detest Microsoft.


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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:53
Member (2005)
English to Polish
+ ...
RTF can now be fixed too!!! Nov 6, 2007

I must make this update.

Yesterday I had an RTF file which Word 2002 SP3 truncated on the 2nd page while it should be more than 30 pages long.

The file was exported from SDLX but shouldn't an MS application be able to handle an MS invented format?

I had to have the whole translation so I chose the Open With » Writer context menu command. Lo and behold, the WHOLE RTF file was opened. I only had to fix one misplaced graphics but everething else was OK.

So this time Writer (2.3.0) beat Word at Word's own game.

Piotr


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OpenOffice loses MS Word formatting!

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