Word 2013 and Word 2010 use the same file format. Don’t they?

We’ve just dealt with an issue with a student submission where they had been penalised for not submitting a document that met the specified layout. Only thing is, they had. Their document was a written in Office 2013, but staff are still using Office 2013. The document was 13 pages long in Word 2013. But 17 pages long in Word 2010.

On further investigation it turns out that although The Office format is the same between 2013 and 2010, the rendering engine in Office 2013 has been improved. This new version is able to render text more clearly with better letter spacing and kerning. This means in some cases, Office 2013 is able to render extra words on a line. Over a document this leads to a situation where viewing in the earlier versions of Word, the documen’s length is increased and the page breaks added to start new sections towards the end of a page are now throwing in page breaks at the beginning of pages. Figures and tables that were carefully sized to fit into a page are suddenly thrown onto the next page.

If document parity is important. The best option we’ve discovered is simply to use Office’s PDF export facility.

There’s more information in this Microsoft Technote


  • The column balancing algorithm in Word 2013 is improved. This improvement changes the layout of text in columns.
  • Word 2013 uses a new algorithm to determine the optimal way to align text and break lines. Therefore, there are changes to how lines and pages break.
  • You cannot use the Hyphenation Zone setting in the Hyphenation dialog box for documents that are saved in the Word 2013 file format.
  • When you apply the Show Text Boundaries setting in the File Options Advanced dialog box for documents that are saved in the Word 2013 file format, the text boundary lines are displayed around each paragraph. However, when the document is in compatibility mode, the text boundary lines are displayed around the edge of the page.