I am going to have to "bite the bullet", as the expression goes, and fork over the money to buy Microsoft Word for my new laptop. Yes, you can open a Word document in Open Office. No, you can not transfer files interchangeably between the two programs and expect the formatting to hold.
I even tried to save my files in Rich Text Format, which both programs open, and still the formatting went all whacko. When I tried to correct it, I lost my paragraph indents.
So, now I am once again working on my full manuscript in Word, going back through it to not only edit excess, check spelling and grammar, etc., but to be sure all my paragraph indentations, quote marks and other formatting are where I want them.
All this transferring file formats back and forth--not to mention trying the copy and paste to and from the body of emails--has resulted in dropped letters and other anamolies. I know I have been through the first part of my manuscript--the part I need to send to agents--many times. Some of those errors that I worked on today are so obvious, I know I would have caught if they had been my typos. That was before all the file type and computer swapping. But, I fear, some of my sample pages have gone out with errors that will not doubt turn some agents off.
Some literary agents are agents because they love to read. Others, I get the feeling, are closet English professors who consider themselves the grammar and spelling police. Hopefully, my sample pages on which there are a couple of goofs due to my formatting problems of transferring Word files between RTF and Open Office will end up in the hands of the former kinds of agents who look more at the story and understand the little typos are the reason we have copy-editors.
Anyways, I am doing myself a favor and sticking to one version of one brand of software that will transfer text files cleanly from one computer to the other and will produce a clean Rich Text Format document that will copy cleanly into the body of an email. Time to go software shopping.
Oh, by the way, I am down to 107,104 words and not finished with this final edit.