Formats & Tiers

While we can accommodate most file formats, some are more sustainable than others. The resources on this page will identify several preferred file formats and will outline the level of support that we can provide for the format you select.

File Format Selection Guidelines

Researchers are encouraged to select sustainable file formats when submitting their research for access and preservation. Sustainable file formats are:

  • Widely used by appropriate research community
  • Non-proprietary
  • Well documented, open standard
  • Uncompressed (size permitting)
  • Unencrypted
  • Encoded in standard representation (e.g., ASCII, UTF-8)

Given these considerations, the following formats have been evaluated and assigned a support tier.

Support tier Resource type File extension Format name
1 Audio wav WAVE
1 Data csv Comma Separated Values
1 Data xml Extensible Markup Language
1 Image jpg JPEG
1 Image tiff TIFF
1 Text pdf Portable Document Format
1 Text pdf/a Portable Document Format for preservation
1 Text txt Text file
1 Video avi Audio Video Interleaved
1 Video mp4 MPEG-4
1 Video mpeg MPEG-2
2 Audio mp3 MPEG audio
2 Image jpeg2000 JPEG 2000
2 Other pptx Microsoft Powerpoint
2 Other xlsm Microsoft Excel
2 Text docx Microsoft Word
2 Text latex LaTeX
2 Video mov QuickTime
3 Data spv SPSS
3 Image gif Graphic Interchange Format
3 Image psd Photoshop

Our list of file formats will grow as researchers’ needs develop. Formats not included in this table will be considered on a case-by-case basis and assigned to the appropriate tier. Please contact us regarding formats not listed here.

Support Tiers

Tier 1

Open Sustainable File Formats (e.g., .txt) -- See list above for recommendations

We will preserve your data to the best of our ability, and migrate the content over time to ensure accessibility. We’ll keep a copy of your original file as well, just in case you want to revisit the original bitstream (1’s and 0’s).

Tier 2

Some well-known, but proprietary files (e.g., Microsoft Word) – See list above for other examples

We will preserve your original file, but are limited in how we can maintain it. We’ll always keep the 1’s and 0’s in the right order, but some formatting or other features may change.

Tier 3

Proprietary file formats with little to no open documentation (e.g., .spss) – See list above for other examples

There are times when a specialized format is required for your data. In these cases, we will work with you. We will commit to preserving the original bitstream (1’s and 0’s) and the submitted metadata; however, while the files may or may not be renderable in the future, we can make no guarantees on the form or presentation it will take.