Free file formats introduction

Free formats are ones that have been created through an open process. They have the following attributes:

  • They are not tied to one particular vendor or software developer.
  • Anyone can study them and the documentation about them.

The term open format is used, many times, interchangeably with free format. However, free formats are typically applied to those that don’t have copyrights, patents, or other restrictions. Open formats may have these restrictions.

Free formats have several advantages over ones with restrictions:

  • Documents in them can be ported from application to application and operating system to operating system without losing information and formatting.
  • It is easier to preserve documents in these formats for a long time. Since the formats can be studied and used without restriction, they are the best ones for digital preservation.

These formats are typically standardized by an organization supported by corporations and/or government agencies. The applications covered in this Website save documents by default in free formats that are fully documented.

Applications’ native formats

File Formats Applications Links to documentation Links to format pages
OpenDocument Formats - ODF LibreOffice ISO – International Standards Organization
Scalable Vector Graphics - SVG Inkscape W3C – Worldwide Web Consortium
eXperimental Computing Facility - XCF GIMP Gnome
SLA Scribus Scribus