I have a client who needs a few editable word documents / powerpoint documents. Currently, I don't have office on my pc so I'm looking at getting it. I know I won't use it much, so I'd be fine with 2010 or 2007 version. Are these versions too old at this point? How compatible will documents made in these old versions of Word be with newer versions of Word? Thanks
Word is Word.
It doesn't matter what version of Word you are using as long as it's the same or older. Even if you use the exact same version, you are going to find that files can and will change when opened on a different system than your own. That's how Word works. It's never a stable layout tool.
It'll never be perfect. You don't so much as "design" with Word as you "do the best you can". You should also be aware, Microsoft products, in general, are not suitable for commercial printing reproduction and lack support for CMYK color. If your client needs files for commercial reproduction then Word is entirely unsuitable. In fact, most commercial printers won't accept Word files for reproduction.
To be specific.... like most software using older versions is generally no issue if the files are then opened with a newer version.
Two different worlds.
The business and corporate world has made the "Office" software suite a de-facto standard. It is also remarkably stable and versatile enough to accomplish most unsophisticated communication. The problem is that "Office" doesn't play well with our professional software.
However, both of these programs allow "templates." You would use (most any) version to create your editable document template. Most all versions allow for a high-degree of customization. PowerPoint allows backgrounds to be personalized, even animated (shudder) irrespective of the content.
You would create the template(s). Your client would open your template, change the place-holder content while keeping the look-and-feel of the relevant template. Then, the template is saved as a "normal" document. This leaves the original (reusable - editable) template intact and available for later editing.
You would also create a brief introduction that describes and illustrates the template and how to save the resulting pre-formatted content.
A read-only version would force copies instead of over-writing the original templates files.
I know this is an old entry now, but it's worth stating that the biggest obstacle for using Word successfully is training. People seem to get this from the person sitting next to them, which is hardly ideal. Corporations seem to think people are born with the skills, when they are actually failing to give their staff the skills they need. And then there are the mavericks. The ones who can't learn and are hell bent on making their lives more difficult because they insist on breaking the rules that are there to help them.
Building a robust template is a mixture of considered design, preferably by a designer who knows how Word actually works, or people who can work with them, and using Word for what it's meant to do not what a designer assumes it can do. Two very different things in my experience. Almost all the designers I work with have only a basic knowledge of Word, so how can they expect to design a template that works correctly? I can change a wheel on my car, but that doesn't make me a mechanic.
I would guess the users would be using Office 365 by now, since it's 2018 and most are upgraded, but there's no reason why a well constructed and used template in Office 2010 can't do the job. Structure is everything in Word. Abuse it, ask it to do something it isn't designed to do, and you pay the price. It's too easy to blame the tools for a lack of knowledge or understanding.