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Document 293

Opening Rich Text Format (RTF) files

Version: 3.x - Scientific WorkPlace & Scientific Word


Converting RTF files from Word 97 doesn't seem to work successfully.


Being able to include RTF documents in SWP/SW depends on which version of Microsoft Word you are using. Our RTF conversion program currently recognizes RTF version 1.0 and Equation Editor version 1.0. More recent versions of Microsoft Word, in particular Word 97, use an updated file format. The conversion program does not completely read this newer format, so you may lose formatting information in your text as well as embedded equations. With many recent examples, the RTF conversion program does not recognize the RTF version created by later versions of Word and fails to convert the file.

The current RTF conversion program is based on a public domain version, with additions by our programmers to be able to handle the Microsoft Equation Editor mathematical objects. With this program, RTF files are converted to .tex files, which SWP/SW can then read. The conversion retains as much information as it can, but certain formatting information that is not used by SWP/SW is lost. The program does convert equations created with the MS Equation Editor, but we are aware of some equations that are not recognized. Also, the RTF conversion program preserves graphics and tables. Because documents are so varied, it would be best to try converting some typical documents.


We are looking at this problem, but it is nontrivial. We will probably write an entirely new RTF conversion program, so unfortunately there is not an immediate solution to the problem.

The following advice has been offered on the Usenet news group comp.text.tex for the public domain version of the RTF conversion program:

So far as I can tell, the changes in RTF mostly take the form of the addition of new codes that rtf2LaTeX does not recognize. I have found that I'm able to make the conversion (if I really need to!) by the following rather tedious means:

  1. Make a backup of the RTF file; open a copy in a favorite editor.

  2. Run rtf2LaTeX on the file; when it fails, look for the code string it says it read last.

  3. Delete all instances of that code string from the RTF file.

  4. Go to 2.

After maybe 6 to 10 attempts the conversion should work!

Since our conversion program is based on the public domain version, this advice may be helpful for some people.

Revised 06/12/02

This document was created with Scientific WorkPlace.

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