Recommended formats

File formats recommended by the UK Data Service

The 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, pleaseĀ get in touch.

Type of data
Recommended 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.