A new webster wrote me the other day. Said he'd read (and reread) all of my "How To Submit Like a Pro" articles (see my "Writing Help" page). A practice I highly recommend. Anyway, he didn't get the part about RTF files. What's an RTF? So, in case there are others in that fix, I thought it might be time for a new "Jerk" article. Easy now, a short one! You may skip over this if you are RTF certified.
The abbreviation RTF stands for Rich Text Format and is the text file formatting many editors prefer. It retains most of the special formatting of word processor text files (MS Word or WordPerfect files for example) that we use in our manuscripts, like tabs, underlines, and italics. But RTF doesn't contain any micros, which are small programs. Micros are sometimes planted into .DOC files as viruses, so many editors won't open them. RTF files are completely safe -- so far. They also have the advantage that most all word processing programs can read them.
You can convert your manuscripts to .RTF files in your word processing program, unless it's ancient. For space reasons I use MS Word version 2.0 (from around 1992) on my old laptop (an IBM PS2/Note N51sx with a 40-MB hard disk!), and even that old program has RTF.
When you finish your final draft, save a copy as your normal word processor file by simply clicking "SAVE" as usual. Then click on "SAVE AS" and a new window will pop up. There are two boxes in it you'll use, "File Name" and "File Type." The "File Name" box will show the name of the file you just saved (your-title.doc, for example). Click on the down arrow of the "File Type" box and a list of different file types will pop down. Somewhere on that list you'll see something like "RTF-format (*.rtf)." Click on that. The title in the "File Name" box will now read "your-title.rtf." Click SAVE. You've done it! Now, whenever you submit to a market that accepts attached files, send the RTF version, unless the editor has thrown caution to the wind and specifically asks for .DOC files only.
I have separate folders for DOC, RTF, and TXT formatted files. Makes it easier to keep things straight for me, but after converting the format I do have to change folders before I save. A bit more work. Your choice.