Format

A computer file format is a particular way of encoding information within a computer file so that it can be recognized by an application. File formats are indicated by the file name extension, usually a full stop followed by three letters.

Download formatting best practices as a PDF

Open File Formats

Open File Formats can be used by anyone. Choose Open File Formats to:

  • increase your ability to open and read your files in the future
  • make your data accessible to more researchers immediately

Because the file specifications are publicly available, the open-source software community can ensure that data stored in these file formats remain accessible over the long term.

Proprietary File Formats

Proprietary File Formats work only with software provided by the vendor. File specifications are not freely available, so when the software is no longer supported, files in that format are typically unreadable.

Recommended File Formats

Databases: XML, CSV

E-Books: EPUB

Images: JPG, PNG, PDF, TIFF, BMP

Sound: MP3, FLAC

Text: TXT, CSV, PDF/A, ASCII, UTF-8

Video: MPG, MOV, AVI

Spreadsheets: CSV

Medical Images: DICOM

 

Note: Some research disciplines and industries treat a specific proprietary file format as a de facto standard which you may wish to follow.

 

Need help? Contact research.data@ubc.ca