RTF vs DOC: Difference and Comparison

RTF and DOC are two of the word processing document types. In the recent world, we all know DOC is the most popular and there is no competitor for it.

It is undoubtedly the safest choice and has also been set as the default option. However, RTF is an old file format with simple options and limits. It was also very small in size. To overcome these problems, DOC was introduced.

Let us discover some more features of them in this article. This might help us to know more about their uses as well as their differences.

Key Takeaways

  1. RTF (Rich Text Format) is a universal file format, allowing compatibility across different platforms and software, while DOC is specific to Microsoft Word.
  2. RTF supports basic text formatting and limited layout features, whereas DOC offers advanced formatting, layout, and editing options.
  3. RTF files are smaller than DOC files, making them easier to share and store.


RTF (Rich Text Format) is a cross-platform file format that can be used on a variety of operating systems, they are more widely supported by word processing systems. DOC (Document) is a proprietary file format that can only be used by Microsoft Word, DOC files provide more complex formatting possibilities.


RTF stands for Rich Format Text. It was used as a text file and was introduced in the year 1987. It contained more information as compared to other file formats. The file extension for RTF is.rtf. It does not provide any special security features for users.

On the other hand, DOC stands for Microsoft Word Document. At first, this was used as a normal file format. It was introduced in the 1990s and was finally set as the default file format.

The file extension for DOC is.doc. It provides special security features, and the documents are safely encrypted.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRTFDOC
AbbreviationRTF means Rich Format Text.DOC means Microsoft Word Document.
Formatting RTF does not provide a wide range of formatting optionsDOC provides a wide range of formatting options.
DevelopmentMicrosoft Team has stopped all improvements and developments in RTF.With every version, Microsoft continues to focus on the development of DOC.
SizeThe size of the RTF file is very small as compared to DOC.DOC is much larger. 
SecurityRTF is not very safe since it does not provide any kind of guaranteed security.DOC has its safe security features and the files are encrypted.

What is RTF?

RTF is an upgraded version of a normal text file. In RTF, in addition to it, some extra information can be stored. It includes font style or size, adding images, and so on.

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It is supported and is compatible with a lot of applications. Hence, it is a good choice for cross-platform document sharing.

RTF was created universally by Microsoft back in 1987. The format was designed in such a way that the maximum word processor would use it.

With this method, the sharing of Word documents became easier. It was a good option even for people who did not use the Word.

Still, in the present world, it is supported by a number of apps. However, the Microsoft team did quit its development since the year 2008.

In addition, all the operating systems have their own built-in RTF files. A platform such as Google Docs still lets us edit RTF files.

An app is always set as default to open the RTF file. If we open it with other apps, the process is quite simple. We need to select “Open With” and then select the desired option from the drop-down menu.

What is DOC?

DOC is yet another word-processing document introduced by Microsoft. However, it is exported by some other word-processing program.

With every new version, Microsoft aims to develop DOC documents. It works on its compatibility issues and sets the changes likewise.

It is a binary file format and is presently the most widely used application for word processing. It is a very updated format that allows the addition of images, hyperlinks, and even alignments.

It is very large in size and allows a large amount of data to be accommodated.

DOC has been set as the default format in the newer version. The filename extension used for DOC is .doc. Moreover, it is an older version of Microsoft Word. In the present day, it has been upgraded. Docx.

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The best feature of DOC is definitely that the user can save the file in any form they want. However, one of the disadvantages is that it can not be opened with just any application. It requires a certain specific application to open these files.

google docs

Main Differences Between RTF and DOC

  1. The major difference between RTF and DOC is their formatting. RTF does not provide a lot of formatting options. The range is limited and simple. At the same time, DOC provides a wide range of formatting options as compared to RTF. Documents can be formatted in any possible way.
  2. RTF stands for Rich Format Text. It was used as a text file. In contrast, DOC stands for Microsoft Word Document.
  3. Microsoft itself has stopped all forms of improvements and developments in RTF. Moreover, the new version can not be saved in the type. On the other hand, every version continues to focus on the development of DOC.
  4. The size is a very important factor. The size of the RTF file is very small, which was one of the drawbacks. However, DOC is much larger in size. A large amount of data can be accommodated.
  5. The security factor is very important in any field. RTF does not provide any guaranteed security and is not very safe. On the other hand, DOC has its security features and the files are encrypted.
Difference Between RTF and DOC
  1. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/801/1/012054/meta

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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6 thoughts on “RTF vs DOC: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Wow, the security features of RTF and DOC are very different! I never knew about that. It’s definitely something to consider in choosing the right format.

  2. This article is very informative and it gives a lot of information about the differences between RTF and DOC document types. I appreciate that

  3. I think the article provides a good overview of RTF and DOC document formats. It is very well written and easy to understand.

  4. It is interesting to know that RTF files are smaller than DOC files and easier to share and store. I didn’t know that before.

  5. The comparison table is very useful and clearly shows the differences between RTF and DOC. I found it very interesting.


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