All Document File Formats And How To Open Them

Every file that you ever handle, or come across, has a file extension. A file extension is defined after a period (dot) at the end of the file name, usually suffixed with 3 or 4 alphabets. This file extension defines which app or program will be sued to open the file, as well as the file format.

Similar to audio files, there are a bunch of file formats belonging to the document category, like PDF, DOC or DOCX, CSV, and many more. Files having file extensions belonging to the document section are files with text and information.

Depending on the file type format, the information inside the document file could be in plain text, in an image, in an audio or video format, or in comma-separated values. In this article, we are going to learn about the many file formats and how they differ from one another.

Document File Types and Formats

Let us dive right into the different document formats available today.

Comma Separated Value (CSV)

Download .CSV Sample Files

As the name implies, a CSV file is a combination of simple text separated by commas. These are usually spreadsheets opened using a variety of different apps and programs. Basic programs like the Notepad, or even the slightly-advanced Microsoft Excel can be used to open CSV files.

Inside a CSV file, each new line corresponds to a new database row, and each database row consists of one or more fields separated by commas, which comprise plain text data sets.

It is easier for programs to interchange data across themselves using the CSV files, especially if they do not understand each other’s proprietary file extension type. In such a case, data can be converted into a CSV file and then imported into other programs.

Here is a list of programs that can open CSV files:


Download .DOC Sample Files

Download .DOCX Sample Files

The “DOC” and the “DOCX” aren’t acronyms, rather these are the standard file extensions for documents created by Microsoft Word. Before Microsoft Office 2007, all documents were saved with a .DOC extension. After and including Microsoft Office 2007, the DOCX format became the standard for saving files.

Both the DOC and the DOCX are popular word processing formats saved or exported by Microsoft Word or another word processing tool, like OpenOffice Writer or Apple Pages. They include formatted text as well as other document components including photos, tables, and charts.

The “X” in “DOCX” stands for XML, where the DOC files are saved in the XML format. DOCX files save document data as individual files and folders in a compressed Zip package in the Open XML Document format, in contrast to DOC files, which store document data in a single binary file.

The Open XML format is intended to increase the accessibility and openness of document content. For instance, document images are saved as separate image files, such as .JPG or .PNG, within the DOCX file, but document text is kept as plain text files.

Here is a list of programs and services that can open DOC and DOCX files:

OpenDocument Presentation (ODP)

Download .ODP Sample Files

A .ODP file contains a presentation, much like a .PPTX file. This file type is created by Impress software – a presentation program that is included in the Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice suites.

An ODP file may contain images, text, digital media, and transition effects. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) manages the XML-based OpenDocument standard, which is used to construct ODP files.

The following list of programs can be used to open ODP files:

OpenDocument Spreadsheet (ODS)

Download .ODS Sample Files

ODS files are spreadsheets very much alike .XLSX files. They are created by a program “Calc,” that is included inside the LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice suites.

ODS files contain charts, mathematical functions, and formatting options in addition to storing data in cells arranged in rows and columns. The OpenXML-based standard, which is maintained by The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), is used to format ODS files.

The following programs can be used to open ODS files:

OpenOffice Document (ODT)

Download .ODT Sample Files

The ODT file format is created by work procession programs, like Writer, which is included in LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice.

An ODT file usually contains text, images, digital media, tables, and anything that you might find in an ordinary DOC or DOCX file. The Open XML-based standard, as in DOCX files, is upheld by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and other alternatives that save documents as ODT files adhere to this standard.

The following programs support opening .ODT files:

OpenDocument Text (OTT)

Download .OTT Sample Files

An OTT file contains templates for document files. It is saved in an OpenDocument standard, which is upheld by OASIS, and created by word processing programs, such as the ones included in LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice suites.

The template inside of an OTT file usually contains the page layout and default styling for a text document. These files can usually be found alongside .ODT files to define their layout and styling.

The following handful of applications can be used to open .OTT files:

Portable Document Format (PDF)

Download .PDF Sample Files

A PDF file is a multi-platform container file created by a PDF-supported application. It can be Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, or even the Windows built-in “Print to PDF” feature.

PDF files are usually not created from scratch but rather converted from other formats, such as .DOC or .DOCX. The PDF format makes it easier to combine multiple images and text into a single file which can be opened on almost all operating systems natively.

You could come across PDF files in a variety of contexts, such as when you download a document from a website or get an email with a document in PDF format. Text, pictures, forms, annotations, sketches, and other information relevant to documents could be included in a PDF file.

Additionally, they electronically maintain the font and layout across many platforms and display identically on screens as they do when printed out on paper.

The following programs and services are capable of opening PDF files, while some can even edit them:

Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation (PPT and PPTX)

Download .PPT Sample Files

Download .PPTX Sample Files

A PPT file is a presentation file commonly created by Microsoft PowerPoint, or any other presentation program, like OpenOffice Impress or Apple Keynote, and includes slides. A PPT file usually contains formatted text, bullet points, pictures, videos, music, and sound effects.

PowerPoint users frequently create PPT files from templates, but they can also start from scratch.

When Microsoft released PowerPoint in 1987, it also introduced the PowerPoint Presentation (PPT) binary format. Before Microsoft introduced the Open XML Presentation (.PPTX) file format in PowerPoint 2007, PPT was the most common file type used to save PowerPoint presentations.

The following list of apps and services can handle PPT and PPTX files:

Rich Text Format (RTF)

Download .RTF Sample Files

The RTF file format was developed by Microsoft to contain “rich text,” which essentially means that it is a plain text file that may contain a variety of text formatting, which includes custom fonts, styling, italicization, bolding, and custom colors. Not only that, but .RTF files can also contain images in different formats.

At the time format was created, the purpose was to be able to share documents, like files for Microsoft Word, with the people who did not have supporting applications.

Opening an RTF file prepared by one program in another may result in minor formatting errors. These modifications can be traced to the many RTF format versions that various programs have supported over the years.

Being a text file, the following apps and services can open and handle RTF files:


Download .TXT Sample Files

A .txt file is a standard text file. These are simple text documents that often do not have any formatting and are in plain text, making them one of the most widely known and used document file types. A .txt file can be opened with any word processing and text editing program, which are mostly pre-installed on popular operating systems like macOS and Windows.

Moreover, plain text files are also recognized by a number of non-PC devices, including smartphones and the Amazon Kindle, as well as web browsers like Chrome and Firefox.

Here is a long list of applications that can open and create simple .txt files:

Excel Binary File Format (XLS and XLSX)

Download .XLS Sample Files

Download .XLSX Sample Files

An XLS file is a spreadsheet formatted file that may also contain mathematical functions, styles, charts, and formatting, whereas the XLSX format is a spreadsheet file in the Open XML format. These were developed by Microsoft for Microsoft Excel but can also be opened and edited by other spreadsheet programs, like Apple Numbers or OpenOffice Calc.

When Excel was first released in 1987, the Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (XLS) binary format was also released. Up until the introduction of Microsoft Excel in 2007, XLS files became one of the most popular file types for preserving spreadsheets. However, it was later replaced with the Microsoft Excel Open XML Spreadsheet (XLSX) format.

XLS files save spreadsheet data in a single binary file, whereas XLSX files store data as different files and folders in a compressed Zip package. Excel spreadsheets are now typically saved in XLSX files.

Here is a list of the programs that can open XLS and XLSX files:


The list does not end here. There are still many document file formats that have not been mentioned in this post. This is likely because many of them are app-specific, where individual software manufacturers have created their own proprietary text file formats.

Regardless, the aforementioned document file formats are the most common ones used today, which include .TXT, .DOC, .DOCX, .PPT, .PPTX, and .PDF.

Related Articles

Leave the first comment