Recommended formats

This table contains guidance on file formats recommended and accepted by the UK Data Service for data sharing, reuse and preservation.

You may need to convert your data files to a preservation file format.

We welcome queries from researchers about appropriate file formats for working and preservation, particularly early in the research process.

If you are unsure of the suitability of your file formats for the data you want to deposit with the UK Data Service, please get in touch.

Type of dataRecommended formats
Acceptable formats

Tabular data with extensive metadata

variable labels, code labels, and defined missing values

SPSS portable format (.por)

delimited text and command ('setup') file (SPSS, Stata, SAS, etc.)

structured text or mark-up file of metadata information, e.g. DDI XML file

proprietary formats of statistical packages: SPSS (.sav), Stata (.dta), MS Access (.mdb/.accdb)

Tabular data with minimal metadata

column headings, variable names

comma-separated values (.csv)

tab-delimited file (.tab)

delimited text with SQL data definition statements

delimited text (.txt) with characters not present in data used as delimiters

widely-used formats: MS Excel (.xls/.xlsx), MS Access (.mdb/.accdb), dBase (.dbf), OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods)

Geospatial data

vector and raster data

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

geo-referenced TIFF (.tif, .tfw)

CAD data (.dwg)

tabular GIS attribute data

Geography Markup Language (.gml)

ESRI Geodatabase format (.mdb)

MapInfo Interchange Format (.mif) for vector data

Keyhole Mark-up Language (.kml)

Adobe Illustrator (.ai), CAD data (.dxf or .svg)

binary formats of GIS and CAD packages

Textual data

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

plain text, ASCII (.txt)

eXtensible Mark-up Language (.xml) text according to an appropriate Document Type Definition (DTD) or schema

Hypertext Mark-up Language (.html)

widely-used formats: MS Word (.doc/.docx)

some software-specific formats: NUD*IST, NVivo and ATLAS.ti

Image data

TIFF 6.0 uncompressed (.tif)

JPEG (.jpeg, .jpg, .jp2) if original created in this format

GIF (.gif)

TIFF other versions (.tif, .tiff)

RAW image format (.raw)

Photoshop files (.psd)

BMP (.bmp)

PNG (.png)

Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF/A, PDF) (.pdf)

Audio data

Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) (.flac)

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (.mp3) if original created in this format

Audio Interchange File Format (.aif)

Waveform Audio Format (.wav)

Video data

MPEG-4 (.mp4)

OGG video (.ogv, .ogg)

motion JPEG 2000 (.mj2)

AVCHD video (.avchd)

Documentation and scripts

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

PDF/UA, PDF/A or PDF (.pdf)

XHTML or HTML (.xhtml, .htm)

OpenDocument Text (.odt)

plain text (.txt)

widely-used formats: MS Word (.doc/.docx), MS Excel (.xls/.xlsx)

XML marked-up text (.xml) according to an appropriate DTD or schema, e.g. XHMTL 1.0

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