Choosing the Right File Format for Your Document

Most companies have high regards to their text documents just as much as they are concerned with their financial accounts. These documents are usually in different formats depending on what is in the document.

There are three variants of text documents including; Plain text files, which have simple texts, no font choices and no formatting. Text documents that allow you to choose fonts, colors, text size, background and imbed images. The last format, Documents for presentation has similar features to Text documents, with the only difference being its restrictions on editing.  

The simplest format for Plain text files is the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This format has been widely used since its launch in 1963 because it has easily supported. Nonetheless, this format has fewer functions. Therefore, the only change that can be done with it is selection of line breaks. You cannot attach any images or colors, and there is no support for symbols not found on your keyboard such as diacritic marks.

However, if you want support for more characters, it is possible with other types of encodings based on ASCII. This advantage is common with the western world windows 1252. This windows is compatible with ISO-8859-1. In different parts of the world, you will get other conventions. For long terms storage of text, the UTF-8 is more promising and it can represent texts of all languages when in use.   

Text files with encoding based on ASCII have the .txt suffix but it is hard to determine which one it is specifically. In that case, it is a prudent to determine the kind of encoding one is using then keep a record of it. You can also go deeper and store the authoritative tables for converting the encoding to unicode (try http://www.iana.org/assignments/character-sets and http://www.unicode.org/Public/MAPPINGS/).

For the Windows operating system, Notepad is the preferred application for handling TXT files. Recent versions of Notepad detect UTF-8 if the file is an actual UTF-8 or has a UTF-8 byte ordermark, UTF-16 if they assume a UTF-16 byte ordermark as well as the windows ANSI code page for western windows versions. In that case, it is possible to use notepad to get raw texts from other types of files even those you are planning to store.

Text documents are common since they are produced with many commercial or free word processors. They are used for writing basic text documents. Including personal letters to close friends, project lists and so forth. Office suites that have this format include Microsoft Office, Apple Works and Open Office.org.

Ensure what you write today is readable tomorrow. Compatibility has been a problem with Text documents due to lack of open standard for documents. This has resulted to different levels of success when migrating from one document editor to another since each one has its own format. Currently, the .doc format is the one supported by the largest number of editors.  

Regardless of the type of word processor you use, it is necessary that you choose one that supports various formats, where choosing the durable formats will enhance archiving of your document. Although work may proceed on the OpenDocument standard - most specifically verion 1.0 that was approved as an OASIS standard in May 2005- RTF remains to be the most commonly used format since it is widely supported and documented. You should consider making this your default format so that all documents are available this way. If you do not wish to know how to change the default format for MS word, you can still consider RTF as your archival format. Although the format may not be correctly represented, however, you are likely to stick with for a longer time.  

When it comes to making Documents for presentation, you will not have much luck with Word processors, since they are weak in this. You should probably think about using programs like Adobe Illustrator/InDesign, sodipodi or CoreIDRaw. Although these programs are fit for this function, they are tricky to store.

There are two options for this including PDF, most specifically PDF/A and XPS from Microsoft.
PDF is the format designed by Adobe systems for the main purpose of document exchange. This format is widely used for representing two-dimensional documents. With Acrobat 3-D, you can embed 3-D documents.  

PDF/A is mentioned as a long-term preservation format for its durability. This format is a subset of PDF, with a few changes especially on features that are not suited to long-term storage of electronic documents. This description resembles that of PDF/X, which is a subset for printing and graphic arts.

The XML paper Specification describes a page description language, and fixed-document format crafted by Microsoft. This format supports device independence and enhances resolution.
Never use inbuilt compression of PDF files. If necessary, it would be best to use PDF 1.4 specification.