Skip to Main Content

DataShare: ISU's Open Research Data Repository

Iowa State University’s DataShare is an open access repository for sharing and publishing research data created by Iowa State University scholars and researchers.

Recommended File Formats

Files that use open or ubiquitous formats are easier to share, preserve, and reuse. The table below provides file format recommendations for common file types. Values in bold indicate the best choice if multiple options are available.If you plan to use DataShare please prepare your data files based on these recommendations when possible.

File Type Recommended Formats Acceptable Formats
Audio Wave (.wav), FLAC (.flac), AIFF (.aiff, .aif); MPEG (.mp3), FLAC, Ogg Vorbus (.ogg),
Database eXistdb database files (.xml files in a hierarchy of directories)  
Image: Raster uncompressed Tagged Image File Format (.tif or .tiff) JPEG (low/no compression); BMP, PNG (.png)
Image: Vector Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg)  
Tabular data Comma Separated Values (.csv) or Tab Separated Values (.tsv), UTF-8 encoding preferred.  MS Excel (.xlsx 2007 or later), Open Office (.ods), structured plain text files (.txt)
Text: Formatted PDF/A (.pdf), Rich Text (.rft) PDF (.pdf), Microsoft Word (.docx), Open Office (.odt)
Text: Plain Plain Text (.txt) UTF-8 encoding or plain text (.txt), ASCII encoding  
Structural: Markup
SGML w/valid DTD (.smg, .sgml); XML w/valid DTD (.xml), KML (.kml), JSON (.json), Markdown (.md) HTML (.html, .htm)
Video MPEG-4 (.mp4) AVI (.avi); QuickTime (.mov)
Virtual Reality X3D (.x3d)  

File Formats to Avoid

Below is a table of file formats to avoid as they are either: 1) proprietary; 2) discontinued; or 3) difficult to preserve or reuse.

File Types File Formats Reasoning


Real Audio (.ra, .rm, .ram)

Windows Media Audio (.wma)

Proprietary and discontinued
Statistics Packages JMP files Proprietary
Adobe Creative Suite .psd; .eps, .indd, etc. Proprietary
Older Microsoft Office Suite .doc, .docx, excl Proprietary and defunct.
Images JPEG 2000 (.jp2) Defunct
Video Windows Media Video (.wmv) Proprietary and defunct
Generic .dat DAT files are usually contain structured text so it is better to save the data in a format that makes the structure explicit (such as .csv or .tsv).
Databases Microsoft Access (.accdb), FileMaker Pro (.fm5, .fm7, .fm12, etc.) Proprietary

decorative image

We're here to help!
Please contact us by email:

For more help visit the Library's
Data Management Plan Guide

Help icon by Icons8