Open Office doesn't provide perfect support for Word documents (especially since Microsoft change the file format every so often) but it does come close enough for most purposes. Opening a Word document in Opern Office is easy since if you don't have the default for .doc files set to open in Open Office it is simply a mattwer of opening the context menu (either via the right mouse button or the context menu key on your keyboard) and selecting the "Open With" option and then selecting Open Office.
Saving files that you create in Open Office so that they can be read in Word is perhaps not quite so obvious. While Open Office can read both its own file formats and those of Microsoft Word, Word is somewhat retarded and cannot open files in Open Office format.
To produce files from Open Office that can be read both in Open Office and Word it is therefore necessary to save the file as a .doc file in Word format. This will probably not be your default file format in Open Office and so it is necessary to select the File Type when you first save the file from Open Office rather than allowing it to default to the Open Office format.
Open Office includes three different versions of Word documents in the list of different file types that it supports. For maximum support where you don't know what version of Word your intended recipients have you should select the earliest version of the Word format. Where you expect that all recipients should have a reasonably current version of Word then selecting the latest Word version will result in less of the formatting that the document contains being lost or slightly altered.
Saving a file from Open Office as a Word document will produce a message advising you that as you are not saving the file in the latest Open Office file format that some of the information in the file will be potentially lost. In most cases any information that is lost will not be noticed (and in fact there may not be any). Any that is lost is unavoidable if you want to be able to create documents readable in more than one specific version of one word processor since information can be lost between different versions of the same word processor particularly if the file is produced in a more modern version and needs to be output in a way that can also be read by earlier versions.
You might just think of the latest version of Open Office as being equivalent to the next version of Word that has yet to be released and in order toprovide backwards support those features that are in Open Office and not in Word will be lost when you convert the file to be readable by those word processors..
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.