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File formats and compatibility

Do yourself a favor, right now, and make your computer show filename extensions:

1. Go to the Finder menu (click anywhere on your Desktop if you can't see it) and select "Finder Preferences."

2. Click the "Advanced" icon, and make sure "Show all filename extensions" is checked.

Okay, this probably ought to be a table of some sort, but for now:

Microsoft Word:
    Can open .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf
    Can NOT open .pages, .pdf
    Can SAVE AS .pdf, rtf

Apple  Pages:
    Can open .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .pages
    Can NOT open .pdf
    Can EXPORT .pdf, .doc, .rtf, .txt, ePub (for iPads)

Google Docs/Drive:
    Can open .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, .pdf
    Can NOT open .pages
    Can DOWNLOAD AS .docx, .odt, .rtf, .txt, web archive

So what should you do? The answer won't be the same every time. Here are some tips and ideas:

- If you want to do a mixture of text and pictures, with easy-to-use layout ability (like a newsletter), try Pages. The general consensus is that it's easier to arrange "mixed media" and do columns and stuff like that with Pages. Then, once you've got your newsletter all laid out and you want to send it to other people (e.g. parents, or posted on your website), export it as a .pdf. PDF preserves the exact position of all your pictures and text, the font you used, the spacing, etc. so the recipients will see it the way you want them to see it.

- If you want to draft a letter and then share it with parents in a way that so they can edit it (e.g. type answers to questions and send it back to you), you can *use* any of these programs to do your initial piece of writing; BUT then, when you go to send it to the parents, export it as a .doc so that they will be able to open it (and optionally edit it) with whatever word processing program they have -- even if they don't have Pages. (You can always convert it BACK to Pages later for yourself.)

- If you want to work on a document together with a large group of people (e.g. a class of students, or the whole staff of your school), use Google Docs/Drive and work within the browser. No saving, no exporting, no worries about who has what version of which software package. All they need is a browser and an Internet connection. (And a Google Apps account -- we can make email-disabled accounts for youngsters for projects like this.)

More succinctly: 
- For "final products" that people do NOT need to be able to edit, use .pdf since it preserves the layout exactly as you want it to look, and is not editable

- For editable sharing with people outside of our district, use .doc since it is the most common, compatible format

- For mass-collaboration, use Google Docs/Drive since dozens of people can work on one thing simultaneously 

You can use anything you want -- Pages, Word, OpenOffice, even (gasp!) AppleWorks -- to create your content. But when it comes time to share that content, you must be mindful that not everyone has the same programs that you do.