Opening the New Office Document Formats

Several months ago, I received a question about opening up an excel file:

why can’t i open this attachment?

is it an excel file? my mac doesn’t recognize it?

The attached file had a .xlsx extension and that was the giveaway.

When Microsoft introduced Office 2007 (and 2008 for the Mac), they revamped the formats for all of the Microsoft Office file types. To differentiate the new file types, they added an ‘x’ to the format. So anything that ends in ‘x’ (.docx, pptx, xlsx, etc) were created by the new version of Office.

Microsoft has released a knowledge base article about it: How to use earlier versions of Excel, PowerPoint, and Word to open and save files from 2007 Office programs.

They have also released a compatibility fix, at least for Windows-based machines: Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats

Update: You can also use this free online conversion utility: Zamzar

Murder by PowerPoint

In my Constitutional Law and Civil Rights class, we’re doing student presentations on Supreme Court Justices. There are 32 people in the class and in about 3 hours, we managed to get through 10 of them. That means that I’m going to be forced to sit with my eyelids glued open critiquing about nine hours of PowerPoints!

Holy crap.

Fortunately they haven’t been terribly atrocious, yet. My biggest pet peeves when it comes to PowerPoint presentations are:

  • Horrible theme/background – is it really that hard to use something nice?
  • Long, run on sentences and paragraphs that go on and on and on for no reason other then to just fill up the space of the slide and really provide no other reason and then tend to irritate the reader because the presenter is talking and I’m trying to read the slide but I can’t because it’s so freakin’ long. Six Words Per A Slide, Maximum!1
  • Small font that no one can see. There’s a reason that Microsoft provides you with 24 pt font. Use it.
  • Reading off the slide…word for word. Just don’t do it, okay? I’m not a preschooler; I assure you that I can read.
  • Thus, under no circumstances should anyone ever have a slide that looks like this:

    This is a real life example from today that I recreated for your viewing pleasure.

1 I actually usually have more then six words per a slide in my presentations. I’m trying to cut back, I promise. But the patch isn’t working like they said it would. And the professors limit the amount of slides you can have. So I’d end up having 6 x 20 = 120 words. Total. Not going to cut it.