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ScholarWorks@UMBC, a part of MD

Non-Proprietary File Formats

In order to maximize accessibility and ensure long term preservation, please use on of the following non-proprietary formats.

Tables, spreadsheets, and databases

  • Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Tab-separated tables (.txt – sometimes .tsv or .tab)
  • Comma-separated tables (.csv or .txt)
  • Other standard delimiter (e.g. colon, pipe)
  • Fixed-width
  • OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods)
  • OpenDocument Database (.ods)

Multidimensional arrays

  • Common Data Format (.cdf)
  • Network Common Data Format (.nc)
  • Hierarchical Data Format (usually .hdf or .h5)


  • Data Documentation Initiative (.xml)

Web data

  • Javascript Object Notation (.json)
  • Extensible Markup Language (.xml)
  • Hypertext Markup Language (.html)

Image files

  • JPEG (.jpg or .jp2)
  • Portable Network Graphics (.png)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg)
  • TIFF (.tiff or .tif)
  • Portable Document Format (.pdf)

Sound files

  • WAVE (.wav)
  • FLAC (.flac)
  • MPEG-3 (mp3—may not be suitable for high-fidelity audio)

Video files

  • MPEG-4 (mp4)
  • JPEG2 2000 (mj2)

Geospatial data

  • Geo-Referenced TIFF (.tiff)
  • ESRI Shapefile (.shp, .shx, .dbf)
  • Keyhole Mark Language (.kml)

Software code

  • Plain text (usually with an extension that represents the source language)


  • Plain text (.txt)
  • Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • LaTeX documents (.tex)
  • Hypertext Markup Language (.html)
  • Open Document Format (.odt)
  • Extensible Markup Language (.xml)


  • EPUB (.epub)