What is the difference: DOC vs DOCX

What is the difference: DOC vs DOCX

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January 17, 2023

In this article, we will tell you about the important file formats DOC vs DOCX. We will discuss what they have in common, highlight their advantages and disadvantages, and finally find out which format is better for working with your files and documents.


Table of Contents


Electronic documents are used for a variety of purposes these days, and one of the main ones has been the shift from paper documents to fully electronic documents. Devices that can properly store and print work in appropriate formats are used by many businesses. Various formats can be used to display this work, including text documents, photos, videos, and even presentations. 

Thanks to Microsoft Office, where users have many such alternatives for data entry, this application is one of the most practical. Several programs can be found on the Internet to help create these files, but Microsoft Word is one of the most popular programs used by millions of people around the world. Resumes, documents, blogs, articles, reports, and even portfolios can all be created by typing. And there are different types of formats in which this document can be saved. The two most common Microsoft Word formats are called DOC and DOCX.


DOC vs DOCX: Which format is better?

Many people don’t understand what DOC and DOCX mean or what the difference is. Microsoft Office has updated and introduced DOCX, which has more functionality than DOC. Due to stiff competition from other open formats such as ODF and Open Office, Microsoft replaced DOC with DOCX as the new word processing standard. DOCX files are portable, lightweight, and easy to read. For versions of Word after 2007, the DOCX extension is the default. But older versions can also easily open DOCX files.

The main difference between the two file types is that DOC saves a document as a binary file containing all the formatting and other necessary information associated with it, while a DOCX file is actually a zip file with all the XML files associated with the document.
This means that you can use any zip compression program to open your document, if you replace the DOCX file extension with .ZIP.

History of DOC and DOCX files

Microsoft Word began using the DOC format and file extension more than 30 years ago, in the very first release of Word for MS-DOS.
In the early 2000s, various competing products could handle DOC files, although some of Word’s more exotic formats and options were not fully supported by other word processors. Microsoft Word could create documents, reports, and even text files for articles and assignments. The size of these documents was enormous, and there were many compatibility problems with them because they were not recognized by other similar applications. This was the main type of extension that was used until the Microsoft Word 2003 version.

When Microsoft released a new version of Word in 2007, a new format called DOCX took its place. The main benefit of this file extension was that it took up less space than the previous one because it was almost 80% smaller. Another benefit was that it was compatible with many other Word-like programs that could recognize it. Additionally, it was faster than earlier versions, had a variety of additional text options and design innovations, and an updated equation insert tab made it easier to enter information and solve difficult equations using this file format. This format is the main and most used, and it looks like it will dominate for years to come.


ExtensionIs the default extension for MS Word 2003 and earlier versions.Is the default extension for MS Word 2007 and later versions.
FormatDOC is a binary file.DOCX is essentially a zip file containing a XML files.
AccessibilityThe nature of DOC is basically proprietary.The nature of DOCX is an open standard.
File sizeThe file size of DOC is greater.The DOCX files are lighter and smaller in size.
Program supportThird-party office applications don’t support DOC.Supported by the majority of third-party office programs.
Structural diversityThe DOC version has a limited number of text and layout options.The DOCX version has many innovative new options.
Reasons for useThe only reason to use an older DOC file format is to recover files older than 10 years or to work with a word processor that is severely outdated.Compact file size: The DOCX format uses ZIP-archiving, which allows you to significantly reduce the file size.
Support for various objects: You can use images, diagrams, auto-patterns, equations, and many other objects inside a DOCX document.
Sophisticated formatting: You can change fonts, page layouts, styles and elements.
Can be saved in any format you choose: You can transfer as is and print or convert to other formats.

Why should I switch from DOC to DOCX?

The DOC file format was the property of Microsoft. This meant that software for other types of word processing products often were not able to open and process DOC files. Microsoft wanted to create a new file extension for word processing that was an open standard format.

This desire to create an open product that other companies could use led to the move to DOCX. Because of this, the behind-the-scenes work of DOCX was done in XML, hence the “X” part in the DOCX extension. Another advantage of the DOCX-type file is the addition of new features that were not possible with the old encoding.

DOC format


Which format is better: DOC vs DOCX? The ability to access and work with files older than ten years is the only advantage of the DOC format. It also works with many legacy word processors.
Since not all people update their software with every new version, the biggest problem with the DOCX format can be compatibility, since Word 2003 and earlier versions cannot open DOCX files. To solve this problem, Microsoft has released a compatibility package that allows older versions of Office to open DOCX and other related formats. DOCX also creates smaller files and makes it easier to read, open, and transfer data. In addition, a damaged DOCX file is easier to repair. Therefore, the DOCX format is undoubtedly the best choice for MS Word users.

If you found this article useful, check out our other blog post:

5 PDF File Formats You Should Know

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