Differences Between Microsoft Word 2003 & 2007


Microsoft Word dominates the word processor market. Since 1989, its many users learned and became accustomed to its system of menus, customizable toolbars and dialog boxes. Between Microsoft Word 2003 and Word 2007, the world’s dominant document editor took some major turns. Some of the changes are obvious, some less so.

File format

  • From Word 97 to Word 2003, Microsoft users saved their documents in the DOC file format, which became the de facto standard. With Word 2007, Microsoft introduced the DOCX format, an open-standard XML format. Word 2003 users can download a free compatibility pack to view DOCX files, and Word 2007 users still have the option to save files in DOC format. DOCX files are compressed and take up less drive space than DOC files.


  • Whereas Word 2003 uses menus and toolbars full of buttons, which users can customize, for command access, Word 2007 user navigate an interface called the Ribbon. The Ribbon comprises seven tabs, such as “Home,” “Page Layout” and “View,” plus an eighth tab labeled “Developer,” which is turned off by default. Each tab on the Ribbon has buttons and drop-down menus not unlike the toolbars in Word 2003, but users cannot customize the Ribbon, or its commands, at all.

Quick Access Toolbar

  • For users who want customization, Word 2007 adds the Quick Access Toolbar. The QAT resides next to the Office button, at the top left of the window. Users can add a few preset buttons from the pull-down menu, or they use the “More commands” option add any other button Word offers--which is quite a few more than appear on any Ribbon.

Quick Parts

  • Word 2003’s AutoText function allowed users to define, edit and insert saved text, also known as boilerplate. Replacing AutoText, Word 2007 introduces Quick Parts. Quick Parts are actually a subset of another new feature called “Building Blocks.” Users will find Quick Parts on the “Insert” Ribbon. Quick Parts can be plain text or they can include formatting--or they can be graphics.

Document Inspector

  • Once Word users adapted to the Track Changes function, which when activated visibly tracks changes a user makes to a document, recipients of edited files often saw all the edits a document had undergone--whether the sender intended it. Both Word 2003 and Word 2007 let users address the issue of revisions, as well as other data a document’s creator might want to keep private. In Word 2003, the “Remove hidden data” add-in wiped those document properties; in Word 2007, users invoke the “Inspect document” command. The Document Inspector presents a checklist of options to the user, letting them erase any or all of the following: comments, revisions, versions and annotations; document properties and personal information; custom XML data; headers, footers and watermarks; and hidden text.

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