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Data Management

Data Format

When thinking about long-term access to data, it is important to plan for technological change, including hardware and software obsolescence. Selecting the right file format for your data can make it more likely to be accessible in the future. Ideally, file formats should be:

  • Non-proprietary
  • Open with documented standards
  • Rendered with standard representation (e.g., ASCII, Unicode)
  • Commonly used by the research community
  • Unencrypted
  • Uncompressed

Additional information on best practices for formatting files for long-term preservation can be found via the Library of Congress Recommended Formats Statement and Sustainability of Digital Formats Website

If you have any questions, or you would like help selecting an appropriate file type for your data, email us at

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