An Open Access Peon

11 July 2006

Making Word Documents Public

Having been at the sharp end of trying to retrieve information from various file formats I've come to the conclusion that editing formats are easier to get information out of than distribution formats. Or to put that another way, in 99% of cases, give me the Microsoft Word file rather than the Adobe PDF.

But the trouble with Microsoft Word (being Microsoft) is it has a habit of letting other people use your resources without your wishing them to. In Word this might be exposing sensitive (or embarrassing) comments or providing an edit history through the 'track changes' facility. Fortunately Microsoft heeded the numerous occasions where an organisation has been caught out and produced the Remove Hidden Data tool (download RHD here).

After you install the RHD tool, open your Word file then click "Remove Hidden Data" to save the document to a new, clean(er) file. Of course, if you're handling very sensitive stuff then you probably want to print-to-PDF and accept your resulting file will be less functional.

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