Use Word 2016 to open documents created in earlier versions of Word

When you open a document in Word 2016 that was created in Word 2010 or earlier, you see Compatibility Mode in the title bar of the document window.

Compatibility Mode temporarily disables new or enhanced Word 2016 features so that people using Word 2010 or earlier will still have full editing capabilities. Compatibility Mode also preserves the layout of the document.

If you open a Word 2013 document in Word 2016, you don't see Compatibility Mode in the title bar because Word 2013 and Word 2016 are compatible.

Document modes and compatibility

When you open a document in Word 2016, it’s in one of these modes:

  • Word 2013-2016 mode

  • Word 2010 Compatibility Mode

  • Word 2007 Compatibility Mode

  • Word 97-2003 Compatibility Mode

If you see Compatibility Mode in the title bar, here's how you can find out which mode you're in:

  1. Click File > Info.

  2. In the Inspect Document section, click Check for Issues > Check Compatibility.

  3. Click Select versions to show to see a check mark that appears next to the name of the mode that the document is in.

Feature availability in each mode

Feature

97-2003

2007

2010

2013 and 2016

Apps for Office

Red X

Red X

Red X

Green check

Web video

Red X

Red X

Red X

Green check

New numbering formats

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

New shapes and text boxes

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

Text effects

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

Alternative text on tables

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

OpenType features

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

Blocking authors

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

New WordArt effects

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

New content controls

Red X

Red X

Green check

Green check

Word 2007 Content controls

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Themes

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Major/minor fonts

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Tracked moves

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Margin tabs

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

SmartArt graphics

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Office 2007 charts

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Open XML Embedded objects

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Building blocks

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Bibliography and citations

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Equations

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Relative text boxes

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Custom XML

Red X

Green check

Green check

Green check

Previous-version WordArt

Green check

Green check

Red X

Red X

Previous-version diagrams

Green check

Red X

Red X

Red X

Previous-version charts

Green check

Red X

Red X

Red X

Convert a document to the Word 2016 mode

You can work in Compatibility Mode or you can convert your document to the Word 2016 file format. The Word Convert command clears the compatibility options so that the document layout appears as it would if it had been created in Word 2016. If the file is in .doc format, the Convert command also upgrades the file to the .docx format.

Converting your document lets you access the new and enhanced features in Word 2016. However, people who are using earlier versions of Word might be prevented from or have difficulty editing certain portions of the document that were created by using new or enhanced features in Word 2016.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To convert the document without saving a copy, click Info, and then click Convert.

    • To create a new copy of the document in Word 2016 mode, click Save As and then choose the location and the folder where you want to save the new copy. Type a new name for the document in the File name box, and click Word Document in the Save as type list. Make sure the box next to Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word is unchecked.

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