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2006-11-13 Breadcrumb trail: Home page Computer issues

Test of word processors

Below is a test of word and text processors and their files. The links go to the files themselves.

The point of view is the one of a user who needs to process texts that meet the following requirements:

  1. Unicode rendering through milennia — the files must correctly render texts written throughout the last 2000 years in Europe, including Greek and Old Church Slavonic;
  2. Low file size — to take the documents with him on a storage medium like a flash memory stick;
  3. Contain metadata to deal with copyright issues and easen searches of the word processor or other programs, such as the Find file of the operating system;
  4. Enable general style control through stylesheets or other kinds of markup whereby the typography of headings is defined only once.

The sample text is The Lord's Prayer in Modern English, Latin, Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, and Old Church Slavic, using Unified Text Format (Unicode) UTF-8. Not all programs are able to reproduce the data correctly. To be frank, the sample texts were created through copying-and-pasting from the Nvu version and then adding up the necessary markup and metadata.

Text files: Sizes and metadata
Program File type (default or exported) Extension Size Unicode Mark-up Metadata
AppleWorks AppleWorks 6 (default) .clw 27K No OK OK
Nvu XHTML 1.0 Strict (default). utf-8 .html 6.0K OK OK OK
Nvu XHTML 1.0 Strict (default). iso-8859-1 .html 7.9K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Open Office Document (default) .odt 9.0K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Aportis Document (Palm) .pdb 2.1K OK OK No
NeoOffice DocBook XML .xml 3.9K OK OK No
NeoOffice HTML document .html 7.8K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Pocket Word .psw 6.0K OK No No
NeoOffice Rich Text Format .rtf 36K OK OK OK
NeoOffice StarWriter 3 .sdw 13K No OK OK
NeoOffice StarWriter 4 .sdw 18K No OK OK
NeoOffice StarWriter 5 .sdw 19K No OK OK
NeoOffice Text .txt 4.8K OK No No
NeoOffice Text — encoded .txt 4.8K OK No No
NeoOffice NeoOffice 1.0 Text Document .sxw 8.9K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP .doc 15K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Microsoft Word 95 .doc 13K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Microsoft Word 6 (Macintosh) .doc 13K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Microsoft Word 2003 XML .xml 15K OK OK OK
NeoOffice Portable Document Format .pdf 110K OK OK OK
Nisus Rich Text Format (RTF) (Preferred) .rtf 25K OK OK No
Nisus AbiWord Format .abw 40K OK OK No
Nisus HTML .html 18K OK OK No *)
Nisus Microsoft Word Document .doc 25K OK OK No
Nisus PDF .pdf 82K OK OK No
Nisus Rich Text Format Directory ***) .rtfd 26k OK OK No
Nisus Text .txt 4.8K OK ****) No No
Pages Pages (default) ***) .pages 30k OK OK No
Pages HTML .html 11K **) OK OK No *)
Pages Word .doc 19K OK OK No
Pages Plain Text .txt 4.5K OK No No
Pages Rich Text Format .rtf 9.5K OK OK No
TextEdit Rich Text Format (default) .rtf 7.7K OK No No
TextEdit HTML .html 6.9K OK No No *)
TextEdit Word format .doc 23K OK No No
TextEdit Word XML 2003 .xml 21K OK No No *)
Word 2004 Word Document(default) .doc 29K OK OK OK
Word 2004 Rich Text Format .rtf 29K OK OK OK
Word 2004 Text Only .txt 2.0K No No No
Word 2004 Text Only (MS-DOS) .txt 2.0K No No No
Word 2004 Text Only with Line Breaks .txt 2.0K No No No
Word 2004 Text Only with Line Breaks (MS-DOS) .txt 2.0K No No No
Word 2004 Unicode Text (UTF-16) .txt 4.6K OK No No
Word 2004 Web page .htm 21K OK OK OK
Word 2004 Word 4.0-6.0/95 Compatible (RTF) .rtf 21K OK OK OK

Notes to table File sizes

*) HTML metadata can be added later by hand through another program, e.g., Macromedia Dreamweaver (Adobe Dreamweaver).

**) Additional files, e.g., stylesheet, not included

***) Due to the peculiar file format that Nisus or Pages use in this case, this file cannot be accessed with a link. Try out for yourself at:

****) If you experience problems viewing the Greek and Slavic passages, open the document in a web browser and select the encoding UTF-8.

Text processors: Names and startup time

Startup time of the application programs is another factor influencing the writers choice of text processor. Why wait for almost a minute to write a note, when 2 seconds from the moment of clicking the application icon till the moment you can write? The below measurements were executed under the following circumstances:

  1. Computer: Macintosh Power PC G4, 750 MHz, 640 MB SDRAM
  2. Operating system: Mac OS X Version 10.4.8
  3. Other open programs: Finder
  4. Date: 2006-10-18
Cold start
Start-up the first time you use the program in a computer session
Programs: Names and startup time
Name Full title and version Cold startup time (s) Manufacturer Last update
AppleWorks AppleWorks 6.2.4 15 Apple Computer, Inc. 2004-12-14
Nisus Nisus Writer Express 2.7   Nisus Software, Inc. 2006-06-08
Nvu Nvu 1.0 12 Contributors / Mozilla Foundation 2005-06-24
NeoOffice NeoOffice 2.0 Aqua Beta Patch 3 48 2006-08-31
Pages iWork Pages 1.0.2 07 Apple Computer, Inc. 2005-07-11
TextEdit Text Edit 1.4 02 Apple Computer, Inc. 2005-08-21
Word 2004 Microsoft Word 2004 (11.2.3) 11 Microsoft 2006-02-02


This page will be updated as long as I have word processors to test.

Erik Thau-Knudsen

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Erik Thau-Knudsen • Skolegade 2A, 2. sal • DK-8600 Silkeborg • Denmark • Tel.: (+45) 8680 1882  • Mob. (+45) 4013 4133