File Formats and conversion

2. File Formats recommendations

Take a look at the table below.  Here is a list of recommended file formats for sharing, re-use and preservation.  Although you might not always choose these formats for working on documents, you might wish to consider these formats for conversion when you come to long-term storing of your files (which we shall talk about in a moment).

File Formats (recommended by the UK Data Archive for long-term preservation of research data)

Data Formats

File formats

Qualitative data


eXtensible Mark-Up Language (.xml)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Plain text data, ASCII (.txt)]

PDF (.pdf)

Quantitative tabular data


SPSS portable format (.por)

Comma-separated values (.csv)

Tab-delimited file (.tab)

Digital image data

TIFF version 6 uncompressed (.tif)

Digital audio data

Free Lossless Audio Codec (.flac)

Digital video data

MPEG-4 (.mp4)

Motion JPEG 2000 (.jp2)

Geospatial data

Mapping (vector and raster data)

ESRI Shapefile (essential: .shp, .shx, .dbf; optional: .prj, .sbx, .sbn)

Geo-referenced TIFF (.tif, .tfw)

CAD data (.dwg)

Tabular GIS attribute data