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Preferred file formats

NSD archives all types of machine-readable research data – including data that require special handling or permission, e.g. personal data. In principle, we prefer file formats that are either well-suited for long-time storage, widely used among users, are based on an open standard that entails free right of use, or are independent of any proprietary standards or service providers. Based on these criteria, NSD has therefore prepared a list of preferred formats (see below). The list is under development and will be updated when relevant formats are included or excluded. Please contact if your data are not in any of the formats listed here.

NSD does not archive biological data or other forms of non-digital data. However, such data can often be documented and registered in machine-readable files that can be useful for secondary analyses, and thereby expedient to archive with NSD.


Type of data Preferred file formats
Textual documents
  • PDF/A (.pdf)
  • MS Word (.doc, .docx)
  • OpenDocument-text (.odt)
  • Rich text format (.rtf)
Plain text
  • Unicode-text (.txt)
  • PDF/A (.pdf)
  • Comma- and semicolon-separated values (.csv)
  • Tab-separated values (.txt)
  • Excel file format (.xls, .xlsx)
  • OpenDocumet-spreadsheet (.ods)
  • Comma- and semicolon-separated values (.csv)
  • Tab-separated values (.txt)
  • MS Access (.mdb, .accdb)
  • ANSI SQL (.sql)
Tabular/statistical data
  • PASW/SPSS (.sav, .por)
  • STATA (.dta)
  • SAS (.sas)
  • R (.R, .Rdata,..)
  • JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg)
  • TIFF (.tif, .tiff)
  • Scaleable vector graphics (.svg)
  • PDF/A (.pdf) 
  • MPEG-2 (.mpg, .mpeg)
  • MPEG-4 H264 (.mp4)
  • Lossless AVI (.avi)
  • QuickTime (.mov)
  • WAVE (.wav)
  • MP3 AAC (.mp3)
Geospatical information
  • ESRI shapefiler (.shp and similar formats)