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The following is intended to provide guidance for content creators and those depositing content into one of the Indiana University Libraries' repositories. Specific format requirements and policies may be defined at the repository level, so also check the appropriate repository-level documentation and/or contact staff prior to creating/submitting content.

For more information on specific file formats and guidance on selection, please see the Library of Congress' Sustainability of Digital Formats and Archivematica's Format Policies page.


Content TypeBest Practice Recommendations for PreservationOther Supported File FormatsFurther Resources

Portable document format for long-term preservation (PDF/A)

Plain text (TXT)

Microsoft Word file (DOC) (DOCX)

OpenDocument text (ODT)

ImagesTIFF version 6 uncompressed (TIFF)


Portable network graphics format (PNG)


FFV1 in Matroska (MKV)

Audio video interleaved format (AVI)

QuickTime (MOV)

MPEG-4 (MP4)


Waveform audio file format (WAVE)

Free lossless audio codec (FLAC) 
Data: Quantitative

Comma-separate values file (CSV)


SPSS file formats

STATA file formats

Microsoft Excel file (XLS) (XLSX)

Tab-delimited file (TSV)

UK Data Archive Managing and Sharing Data
Data: Qualitative

eXtensible mark-up language (XML)

Data: Geospatial 

ESRI Shapefile (SHP, SHX, DBF)

Geo-referenced TIFF (TFW)

CAD data (DWG)

Tabular GIS attribute data

WebWeb ARChive file format (WARC)  


Microsoft Outlook file (PST)  
Social MediaeXtensible mark-up language (XML)JSONDigital Preservation Coalition's Preserving Social Media
3D ObjectsContact staff  
e-Learning ObjectsContact staff JISC Significant Properties of e-Learning Objects Report
Corresponding DocumentationSee Textual Content Type  
The columns are arranged as follows:

Best Practice Recommendations for Preservation - These formats are agreed upon by the digital preservation community as being the best for ensuring long-term preservation of a digital object based on a variety of sustainability factors. If it is possible, content should be migrated and/or saved utilizing these formats. Indiana University Libraries' Digital Preservation Unit is highly confident in our ongoing ability to steward content in these formats.

Other Supported File Formats - These formats are well-known and highly utilized, but they are not preservation standard. If possible, content in these formats should be migrated into the best practice recommendations for the specified content type; however, we understand that in certain cases this might result in the lost of necessary functionality. Indiana University Libraries' Digital Preservation Unit is relatively certain that we will be able to provide continued access and stewardship of content in these formats.

File Formats Not Listed - The formats listed above are the main file formats for which the Indiana University Libraries' Digital Preservation Unit can provide ongoing stewardship. Formats not listed are therefore not recommended to content creators and managers for content intended to be preserved in one of the IU Libraries' repositories. If you have content in an unlisted format, please contact the repository administrator to determine whether content should be normalized into a more preservation-ready file format.

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