In computer terminology, the term 'file format' describes a prearranged order of collected data. The different files or documents on your computer are classified and categorized according to the type of file or document. The different types of file formats indicate how the information in the file is organized. For example, file formats can specify whether or not a file is readable or not. That is, file formats will either be readable by the user and the computer, or will be readable only by the computer. To tell whether you as the user can read the file, look to see whether the file is an ASCII, or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, file, which are usually text files. If the file is a binary file, then only the computer can read it. Binary files are usually programs executable by the computer. If you have a file and you don't know what format it's in, you can look at the file extension for an idea about what type of file it is. The extensions are suffixes that come after the file name that describe what the file is and what it's used for. These extensions are usually in text form, though they also can be numerical. The extension .txt, for example, indicates a text file that you can open and read. The benefit of these extensions is that you should know at a glance whether or not the file on hand is the one you want to use before you actually open it. In addition, you'll know beforehand if you have the necessary program to open the file and read it.
c2004 Bluestreak Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.