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Posted 17 Sep 2007


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Using DocxToText to Extract Text from DOCX Files

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4.79/5 (35 votes)
17 Sep 2007CPOL2 min read
This article explains how to extract text from DOCX files without Microsoft Office libraries.
DocxToText demo application


At last, Microsoft has turned to XML-based format for storing document content. At the same time, it created a small problem for developers who need to index and search in Microsoft Word *.docx files. It's not a problem on a computer with Microsoft Office 2007 installed, but what is there to do if your application works on a server without Office and still needs to get text from Word files? Well, there are three options:

  • Install Microsoft Office 2007 and use its DLLs.
  • Use some third party libraries like "Office Open XML C# Library."
  • Write your own code.

In fact, there is another option: use the DocxToText class described below.

DocxToText Class

This class performs only one function: it extracts text from a given *.docx file. However, before we dig into the code, I'll remind you that a Microsoft Word *.docx file is an Open XML document combining texts, styles, graphics and so on into a single ZIP archive. Therefore we have to "unpack" the *.docx file to get to its guts. If you work with .NET Framework 3.0, you can use the Package class in the System.IO.Packaging namespace. However, working with .NET Framework 2.0, I used the open-source ZIP library SharpZipLib.

If you rename your *.docx file to *.zip and open it in your archiver, you will see a list of packed files like this:

Screenshot - screenshot2.png

First of all, we have to read the [Content_Types].xml file and find the location of the document.xml file. Usually, Microsoft hides it in the /word sub-directory, but it can be anywhere if the file was not created by Microsoft Word. Then we have to parse the document.xml file and extract text from it. A ReadNode() method does all the dirty work: it pulls out text strings, paragraphs, tabs and carriage returns, and concatenates it into final text.

Full text of the DocxToText class:

public class DocxToText
    private const string ContentTypeNamespace =

    private const string WordprocessingMlNamespace =

    private const string DocumentXmlXPath =
        "/t:Types/t:Override[@ContentType="" +
        "application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument." +

    private const string BodyXPath = "/w:document/w:body";

    private string docxFile = "";
    private string docxFileLocation = "";

    public DocxToText(string fileName)
        docxFile = fileName;

    #region ExtractText()
    /// Extracts text from the Docx file.
    /// Extracted text.
    public string ExtractText()
        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(docxFile))
            throw new Exception("Input file not specified.");

        // Usually it is "/word/document.xml"

        docxFileLocation = FindDocumentXmlLocation();

        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(docxFileLocation))
            throw new Exception("It is not a valid Docx file.");

        return ReadDocumentXml();

    #region FindDocumentXmlLocation()
    /// Gets location of the "document.xml" zip entry.
    /// Location of the "document.xml".
    private string FindDocumentXmlLocation()
        ZipFile zip = new ZipFile(docxFile);
        foreach (ZipEntry entry in zip)
            // Find "[Content_Types].xml" zip entry

            if (string.Compare(entry.Name, "[Content_Types].xml", true) == 0)
                Stream contentTypes = zip.GetInputStream(entry);

                XmlDocument xmlDoc = new XmlDocument();
                xmlDoc.PreserveWhitespace = true;

                //Create an XmlNamespaceManager for resolving namespaces

                XmlNamespaceManager nsmgr = 
                    new XmlNamespaceManager(xmlDoc.NameTable);
                nsmgr.AddNamespace("t", ContentTypeNamespace);

                // Find location of "document.xml"

                XmlNode node = xmlDoc.DocumentElement.SelectSingleNode(
                    DocumentXmlXPath, nsmgr);

                if (node != null)
                    string location = 
                        ((XmlElement) node).GetAttribute("PartName");
                    return location.TrimStart(new char[] {'/'});
        return null;

    #region ReadDocumentXml()
    /// Reads "document.xml" zip entry.
    /// Text containing in the document.
    private string ReadDocumentXml()
        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();

        ZipFile zip = new ZipFile(docxFile);
        foreach (ZipEntry entry in zip)
            if (string.Compare(entry.Name, docxFileLocation, true) == 0)
                Stream documentXml = zip.GetInputStream(entry);

                XmlDocument xmlDoc = new XmlDocument();
                xmlDoc.PreserveWhitespace = true;

                XmlNamespaceManager nsmgr = 
                    new XmlNamespaceManager(xmlDoc.NameTable);
                nsmgr.AddNamespace("w", WordprocessingMlNamespace);

                XmlNode node = 

                if (node == null)
                    return string.Empty;


        return sb.ToString();

    #region ReadNode()
    /// Reads content of the node and its nested childs.
    /// XmlNode.
    /// Text containing in the node.
    private string ReadNode(XmlNode node)
        if (node == null || node.NodeType != XmlNodeType.Element)
            return string.Empty;

        StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
        foreach (XmlNode child in node.ChildNodes)
            if (child.NodeType != XmlNodeType.Element) continue;

            switch (child.LocalName)
                case "t":                           // Text

                    string space = 
                    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(space) && 
                        space == "preserve")
                        sb.Append(' ');


                case "cr":                          // Carriage return
                case "br":                          // Page break

                case "tab":                         // Tab

                case "p":                           // Paragraph

        return sb.ToString();

To extract text from a *.docx file using the DocxToText class, you need a few lines of code:

DocxToText dtt = new DocxToText(docxFileName);
string text = dtt.ExtractText();


The class is a bit primitive, but it performs its main function: to just extract text. It was quite enough to implement indexing and full-text search in *.docx files in my document storage and management system Heliocode Doc@Hand. The class does not extract page headers and footers; it does not process numbering and custom XML; similarly, it knows nothing about the data binding used in documents. If you improve the class, I'll be glad to hear about it.


September 17, 2007 - Initial release


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Jevgenij lives in Riga, Latvia. He started his programmer's career in 1983 developing software for radio equipment CAD systems. Created computer graphics for TV. Developed Internet credit card processing systems for banks.
Now he is System Analyst in Accenture.

Comments and Discussions

SuggestionSame idea here for excel workbook with one sheet Pin
Member 1413384729-Jan-19 7:47
MemberMember 1413384729-Jan-19 7:47 
QuestionIf I use office 2016 docx file then it can not work. Pin
Ankit Chopda7-Apr-17 3:27
MemberAnkit Chopda7-Apr-17 3:27 
QuestionDocxToT3ext Pin
Peter Bulloch13-Jan-16 10:35
MemberPeter Bulloch13-Jan-16 10:35 
Questionimages are not loading in ur code Pin
Saikumar Guptha31-Jul-14 19:43
professionalSaikumar Guptha31-Jul-14 19:43 
Question.doc not readble Pin
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QuestionError said Pin
Jayson Ragasa2-Feb-14 11:25
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GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
PaulA114-May-13 4:17
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GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
shanawazway17-Oct-12 3:46
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QuestionError message: This is an unclosed string Pin
Hendra Bunyamin27-Jun-12 3:07
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AnswerRe: Error message: This is an unclosed string Pin
ketan1411-Jan-17 20:24
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QuestionHow can I read line numbers ? Pin
Eng Ahmadi12-Jun-12 0:24
MemberEng Ahmadi12-Jun-12 0:24 
QuestionThis is a Keeper. Pin
gmccoy8-Feb-12 8:38
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QuestionHow to call your class from a VB.NET project Pin
arrelialp (Luis Pereira)12-Jan-12 1:44
professionalarrelialp (Luis Pereira)12-Jan-12 1:44 
SuggestionSlightly modified Version Using Pin
Martin_Dann24-Aug-11 5:42
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QuestionHow about PDF Pin
Andrew Polar14-Aug-11 1:35
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AnswerRe: How about PDF Pin
Jevgenij Pankov14-Aug-11 8:35
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kunal.codes9-May-11 21:11
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Questionhow to Extract image embeded in .docx document Pin
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AnswerRe: how to Extract image embeded in .docx document Pin
Robert Hutch16-Feb-12 3:48
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GeneralDocx files not parsing properly Pin
Nivedita D30-Jan-11 18:27
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BugRe: Docx files not parsing properly Pin
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GeneralRe: Docx files not parsing properly Pin
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QuestionHow to Close the input file? Pin
kavidha28-Oct-10 20:43
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AnswerRe: How to Close the input file? Pin
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GeneralRe: How to Close the input file? Pin
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