An attendee at one of my presentations made me aware of a little known fact about Microsoft Office documents. Documents edited by multiple people, and documents that are re-purposed from one client to another may contain confidential or unprofessional content that you do not intend to distribute. This information is hidden from most casual users, but is available to anyone who takes the time to look deeper. You can test this yourself by performing the following steps with Microsoft Word:

1. Open Microsoft Word
2. Choose File, Open
3. At the bottom of the Open dialog box, change the Files of Type from All Files to Recover Text from Any File
4. Now find a document that has been edited by multiple people or re-purposed from one client to another and open it
5. Cancel out of any error dialog boxes that appear, then scroll to the end of the document
6. You will see a list of fonts used, some bogus text, internal e-mail addresses, the location of the document on the network, etc.

Note: If the above steps do not work, you may be running a version of Word without support for Recover Text from Any File.

This issue has prevented some users in the legal profession (and possibly others) from adopting Microsoft Word. Until recently the only way to get around this issue was to convert the Word document to Adobe Acrobat or some other form of electronic document. However, today I noticed a new package on the Microsoft download site which promises to solve this issue for users of Microsoft Office XP and Office System 2003. The following link will take you to the download page where you can read more about this phenomenon and download the free update.