Choosing The Right File Format/Quick Guide

Quick Guide to recommended formatsEdit

For an explanation of terminology read the section "Formats for storing electronic information".

Data Type Preferred formats Common OpenSource applications Common proprietary applications
Documents
  • Plain text, encoded with either ASCII (limited to the English alphabet) or Unicode UTF-8
  • RTF (Rich Text Format) - Proprietary, open specification by Microsoft
  • PDF (Portable Document Format) - Proprietary, open specification by Adobe
  • EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) - Proprietary, open specification by Adobe
  • OOXML aka DOCX (Office Open XML) - controversially non-proprietary, open specification by Ecma International and ISO/IEC
  • ODF (OpenDocument Format) - non-proprietary, open specification by OASIS and ISO
Notepad++, gedit, kate, AbiWord, OpenOffice.org Writer, KWord, PDFCreator, Geany, vim, emacs Notepad, Adobe Acrobat, Corel WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, Star Office
Spreadsheets
  • ODS (OpenDocument Spreadsheet) - non-proprietary, open specification by OASIS and ISO
  • OOXML aka XLSX (Office Open XML) - controversially non-proprietary, open specification by Ecma International and ISO/IEC
  • CSV (Comma Separated Values) - Non-standard conventional format where a comma is used to separate each value
OpenOffice.org Calc, Lotus 1-2-3, Gnumeric, KSpread Microsoft Excel, Corel Quattro Pro
Web pages
  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) or XML (eXtensible Markup Language) - Non-proprietary, open specifications by W3C
Abiword, OpenOffice2.0, Mozilla composer, Quanta, Geany Dreamweaver, Adobe GoLive
Graphics (raster & vector)
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphic) - non-proprietary, open specification. Released as ISO/IEC 15948:2003 and W3C recommendation (ref)
  • JPEG/JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) Non-proprietary, open specification by the Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • DjVuLibre (pronounced "déjà vu") Non-proprietary, open specification by lizardtech
  • CGM (Computer Graphics Metafile) - Non-proprietary, open specification by ISO/IEC
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) - Non-proprietary, open specification by W3C
  • VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) - Non-proprietary, open specification by W3C
  • DXF (Drawing eXchange Format) - Proprietary, partially open specification by Autodesk
Gimp, TuxPaint, OpenOffice.org Draw, Blender, Inkscape, krita, kolourpaint Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, 3DStudioMax, AutoCAD
Audio Audio has containers with codecs in together they form a format.
  • Ogg container with vorbis, flac, speex and others
  • Flac container with flac audio.
  • MP3 Can contain mp3 audio.
Audacity, Ardour Adobe Soundbooth
Video Video also has containers with codecs in together they form a format.
  • Ogg container with Theora
  • WebM container with VP8 video compression format and vorbis audio compression format
  • MP4 container with h.264 video compression format and mp3 audio compression format
Openshot , KDEnlive Adobe Premiere , Windows Movie Maker
Database Databases do not use files in the normal sense, however a good database can output its content structured with SQL (Structured Query Language) - an ANSI/ISO standard. It is also important that it supports ODBC (Open Data Base Connectivity) PostgreSQL, MySQL, Firebird and InterBase, Kexi Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and Sybase
Encrypted files
  • OpenPGP - Non-proprietary, open specification, OpenSSL
GnuPG (GNU Privacy Guard) PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)