File Formats

last modified 2018-03-08T14:36:46-04:00

File Format Issues

When digitizing items it is important to think about which file formats will be able provide continued access in the future.  Or to put it another way, we must consider which formats are able to be used regardless of which type of software program an individual has.  For example, Word and Excel documents work best in those respective programs, but PDF or text files can be opened and used by many programs.

Principles to Follow

  • Non-proprietary software
  • Open, documented standards
  • Common, used by the research community

Best Formats to use

  • Unencrypted
  • Uncompressed
  • PDF, not Word or Powerpoint
  • Text (UTF-8) in comma-separated format (CSV), not Excel
  • MPEG4, not WMA, AVI or MOV
  • TIFF or JPEG2000, not GIF or JPG
  • XML for structured data


Mercer University Library reserves the right to change file types to preserve them for the future