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Data Management


What file formats should I use for my data? Am I using proprietary formats? How accessible will my data be if the software I'm using to work with it disappears?

To ensure the future use of your data, file formats should:

  • be non-proprietary and based on open, documented standards
  • be commonly used by your community
  • use standard character encoding (ASCII, UTF-8)
  • be unencrypted
  • be uncompressed


Examples of preferred formats:

  • PDF/A (not DOC)
  • ASCII (not XLS)
  • MPEG-4 (not MOV)
  • TIFF or JPEG2000 (not GIF or JPG)
  • XML or RDF (not RDBMS)

For more examples of supported file formats see UK Data Archive Formats Table.

Naming Conventions

Rules to follow when naming directories and files:

  • Avoid using special characters: \ / : * ? “ < > | [ ] & $ , .
  • Use underscores instead of spaces or periods.
  • Try to avoid long names and be as brief as possible.
  • The name should be as descriptive as possible (in case it is moved).
  • Include dates (i.e. YYYYMMDD) and times (i.e. hhmmss).
  • Be consistent.


If you need to rename many files, try using a file naming application such as: