File Formats


What are the best formats for preservation?


Over time, electronic file formats can become obsolete, risking harm or even the disappearance of important data. Many organizations have tackled the issue of what formats are best to protect against this risk.


For simpler explanations of recommended file formats, review the ADAH acceptable file format guide:

The U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) also provides helpful guidance in identifying formats that best protect against the risk of obsolescence. The annually-reviewed Recommended Formats Statement includes guidance by type, including textual works, print and digital photographs, audio, and video.

  1. Textual Works and Musical Compositions
    1. Textual Works – Print
    2. Textual Works – Digital
    3. Textual Works – Electronic Serials
    4. Digital Musical Compositions (score-based representations)

  2. Still Image Works
    1. Photographs – Print
    2. Photographs – Digital
    3. Other Graphic Images – Print
    4. Other Graphic Images – Digital
    5. Microforms

  3. Audio Works
    1. Audio – On Tangible Medium (digital or analog)
    2. Audio – Media-independent (digital)

  4. Moving Image Works
    1. Motion Pictures – Digital and Physical Media
    2. Video – File-Based and Physical Media

  5. Software and Electronic Gaming and Learning

  6. Datasets/Databases
    1. Datasets
    2. Geospatial Data
    3. Databases

  7. Websites