There are several good reasons for you to save your word processor document in Rich Text Format (popularly referred to as RTF). One very good reason is cross-platform interoperability. Since Rich Text Format is well-supported by all of the major word processors, it is a fairly reasonable format for documents that contain text and some basic formatting. This means that if you save your document as an RTF file, you can easily open and edit it with almost any word processor (e.g., OpenOffice Writer, StarOffice, AbiWord, WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, etc.) running under any operating system (e.g., UNIX, Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, etc.).
In contrast to plain text format, Rich Text Format allows you to save the formatting of the text in your document. So, if you included boldfaced, italicized, and underlined text in your document, they will be preserved if you save your file in Rich Text Format. Likewise, document margins and indentation are also preserved, as is text alignment (left-aligned text, right-aligned text, centered text, and justified text). Your choice of font family for your document text is also saved in a Rich Text Format document; though, if you are planning to open the file in another computer that does not have the same fonts specified in the document, the text will not look similar to the original one you created, unless you install the required fonts. If such is the case, do not worry much. Your text will still be readable because your word processor will use substitute generic fonts in place of the exact font that your document specifies.
Another good thing about Rich Text Format is that, unlike Microsoft Word’s DOC format, it does not contain macros. Macros are scripts or instruction sets that make repetitive tasks and functions easier to accomplish. Since many computer viruses can be spread through macros, saving your document in Rich Text Format is a relatively safer way to deliver information, especially in a document that does not require complicated text formatting or layout considerations.
Saving your document in Rich Text Format is a no-brainer. Even a seven-year old can do it easily, given the right instructions. Here’s how to do it:
- Fire up your favorite word processor. It does not matter what word processor you use. Whether you use OpenOffice or Microsoft Word, choose your favorite.
- Create a new blank document. Click on File > New to open a new blank document. Or, if you want to open an existing document that you want to save in Rich Text Format, click on File > Open and then choose the saved file from the dialog window.
- Type away. Go ahead, pour out all your heart and soul into your writing or editing. Set some words in bold face. Underline those important phrases. Spice up long and boring paragraphs with indentations.
- Save your file. Now here’s where you will need to be extra careful. If you have not touched the configuration of your processor, it is most likely set to save new documents in your word processor’s native format by default (i.e., Open Document Text or ODT, in the case of OpenOffice Writer, for example). Click on File > Save As and type a descriptive file name for your document. Somewhere below the text box where you enter the desired file name, you will see a drop-down list just right beside the label that says “Save as type.” Locate and select “Rich Text Format (RTF)” from the list. Click on the Save button.
Files saved in Rich Text Format have its perks, although RTF is a very simple format. If all you really need is basic text formatting, then you can just use RTF to save your word processor documents.