One question I get asked a lot is, “What’s the best way to convert an existing WordPerfect document into Word?”

There are a lot of ways of doing this — some better than others.  Here, I rate the choices from worst to best.

“Save As Word” within WordPerfect. Quite frankly, this is my least favorite choice.  Exporting your document from within WordPerfect into what WordPerfect thinks is a “Word” format almost invariably results in formatting issues.

Third-party conversion software. Somewhat better than using WordPerfect.  Most documents should be fine, but with more complex formatting, there could still be some issues.

Retrieving a WordPerfect document using Word. Letting Word do the converting is usually a better choice, in my experience, than letting WordPerfect do it.  The formatting codes tend to be translated far better.  Be sure to save the document under a different name with the .doc filename suffix.

Copy-and-paste. This is my preferred method — highlighting the text in WordPerfect, using CNTRL-C (or Edit, Copy) to copy the text, switching over to Word, then using CNTRL-V (or Edit, Paste) to paste the text into a blank document.  I find that, even with fairly complex formatting, Word will render the text pretty much the way it appeared in WordPerfect.

Even if you use the copy-and-paste method, you might run across the occasional formatting issue.  Just be sure to eyeball your document thoroughly (in Print Preview if possible) before printing.

What challenges have you encountered in converting existing documents to Word?

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  1. Pretty cool post. I just came across your blog and wanted to say
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  2. I have always trained my students, and counsel legal assistants and attorneys to use the Copy | Paste method with one caveat – and a very important one at that!

    When you paste the text into your new Word document, ALWAYS use Paste Special so that you do not copy over any hidden formatting or “codes” from WordPerfect. One of the biggest complaints I have from users is that when they use the Copy | Paste method they still have to perform clean up on their documents.

    Familiarize yourself with the Paste Special command in MS Word and it will save you a lot of time and keystrokes.

    1. Carol,

      First of all, thanks for stopping by!

      I make pretty liberal use of Paste | Special | Unformatted Text myself, and tend to prefer it when dropping fairly small amounts of text from another source into an existing Word document.

      When copying large blocks of text from WordPerfect (entire pleadings, etc.) into a blank Word document, though, I prefer to at least try to do a straight Copy | Paste to see what formatting issues arise. It isn’t written in stone at that point – I can always “undo” – and it may save me from having to go through and re-do basic formatting like case citations, block quotes, etc. Minor irritations like those extra section breaks that come over from WordPerfect are usually easy enough to find and fix.

      For me, it all comes down to which method is going to save me more time. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes the other, and a lot depends on the document and the user’s comfort level. I can’t say “always” and “never” with this, or with much else, for that matter, which is why I link to my posts re: several other options above.

      Good to have your perspective!

  3. One comment on the copy and paste from WordPerfect to Word. If you do this – it will break the links on any footnotes coming from WP to Word. Opening a WP doc in Word is by far the best way to convert.

  4. I know this is an older article, but I work in a Public School that still uses WordPerfect but is phasing it out, so it’s totally still relevant to us.

    I don’t think this is possible, but I was asked by a collegue if it IS possible to convert multiple files at once. I’ve only done it individually, but this collegue has a lot of files to convert. Is it possible without conversion software?

    Thank you so much!

  5. What about changing .wpd to .doc (very easy) or vice versa? I save the Word document to my directory and change the .doc to .wpd – not sure about clean up issue

    1. You risk de-stabilizing the document to the point that you can’t open it. If you’re going to try that technique, at least backup the original document somewhere safe just in case you inadvertently corrupt the file.

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