International Comparison of Recommended File Formats

This group was established to discuss issues related to file formats and its first deliverable was a new resource that compares the accepted and preferred file formats used in digital preservation strategies at cultural heritage and research institutions around the world.

The comparison was originally created by Aadi Kaljuvee at the National Archives of Estonia, this resource was further developed by Asbjørn Skødt of the Danish National Archives when carrying out file format assessments.

The comparison of recommended file formats aims to inspire organisations that are getting started with, or are renewing their file format policy. It shows which file formats are commonly adopted by different institution types. It is not intended to be used as a policy or to indicate whether a format is good or bad for long term preservation. 

As digital preservation is not a problem that can be solved alone, this comparison identifies potential collaboration opportunities around specific file formats.

The group brings together members who are interested in evolving this resource and discussing file format issues with peers. We meet once a quarter, and you are welcome to join us.

Latest release v1.3, January 2023

How to contribute

To add or update your organisation’s information in this resource: 

  • Open the link to the Google sheet above.
  • Select ‘File’ and ‘Make a copy’ or ‘Download’ to create your own version.
  • On the ‘SIP File Formats’ tab’ insert a new column within the appropriate institution type e.g. ‘National and Federal Archives’.
  • Add your ‘Country’ and ‘Institution’ to lines 2 and 3 in your new column.
  • In row 3, add a link from your institution’s main website.
  • In row 4, add a link to your institution’s format policy or strategy (format guidelines)
  • Review the scoring information in the ‘Descriptions’ tab.
  • Add the scores according to your institution’s digital preservation strategy or file format policy.
  • On the ‘Digital Preservation Strategies’ tab, insert a row to add your institution and add a comment about your strategic approach.
  • Email the link or attachment of your new version to [email protected].

Review cycle

The contributions to this resource will now be reviewed annually. All completed new policies or updates that are received before the deadline will be incorporated into the new master release at the beginning of the next calendar year.

Policy Deadline

Friday December 20 2024

Next release

March 2024. 

Upcoming Meetings

Thursday May 16th | 15.00 CEST 
Thursday September 26th | 15.00 CEST
Thursday November 21st | 15.00 CET
Please reach out to us on info@openpreservation if you would like the links to join. 


If you have any other feedback, would like to suggest ways we can improve this resource or participate in other deliverables and discussions on file formats please contact us.

Feedback such as file format additions or layout changes will be reviewed by the working group on a case by case basis and scheduled for release as agreed.

Join us now