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TECHNOLOGY Q&A

XPS vs. PDF

 

By J. CARLTON COLLINS
APRIL 2011

Q: I see that Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 offer a new file format called XPS. I have read that it supports the paperless environment, and I wonder if our firm should be using this format as we go paperless. Can you give us some advice?

 

A: XPS (XML Paper Specification) is a file format developed by Microsoft that offers an alternative to Adobe Systems’ PDF (Portable Document Format). Both PDF and XPS file formats are used frequently to produce finalized documents that are ready to be shared, such as financial reports, tax returns, legal documents, contracts, newsletters and resumes. A key advantage of both XPS and PDF formats is that the fonts used in the document are embedded in the file so that the document will display and print properly on other computers and printers.

 

Both formats work well, but for Office 2007 and 2010 users, an advantage of the XPS format is that no additional software is required to view the XPS-based documents because Microsoft Word automatically views XPS-based documents. (In contrast, PDF documents require the user to download a PDF reader, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader, to view the document. Likewise, users who do not have Word 2007 or 2010 installed will need to download the Microsoft Word Viewer to view XPS-based files. Both the Acrobat Reader and Word Viewer are free downloads.)

 

There are two methods for creating an XPS document in the 2007 and 2010 editions of Word and Excel. You can either save the file using the XPS file format or print the document to the Microsoft XPS Document Writer. Both methods are described below:

 

1. Saving method. From the Office Start button or File tab, select Save As, and select the XPS Document option from the Save as type: dropdown box shown on the previous page, provide a file name in the File name: box, and click Save.

 

2. Printing method. From the Office Start button or File tab, select Print, set the Printer option to Microsoft XPS Document Writer, and click the Print button.

 

The printing method allows you to produce XPS documents from any application such as database, accounting software, and tax preparation applications.

 

Note: Once a document is printed or saved as a PDF or XPS file, it cannot be easily edited or converted back to its original file format without specialized third-party software.

 

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