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Document Files

So Many Document File Types - What Do They Mean?

Using document files in your genealogy research? So many formats - how to use them!

When you are working with document files which contain text materials, you are faced with an array of formats. Usually you will see an file extension on the name which indicates the format of the material in that file.

The extension, for those of you who do not know, is the part of the file name at the end following the last period in the file name.

As an example, a file name of resume.wpd has an extension of wpd, indicating it is a file saved in the WordPerfect format.

Sometimes people will refer to a file format by its extension. So, when someone says "It's a doc file", they really mean it is a file saved in the Microsoft Word format - a file whose extension is .doc.

So, to help you understand that, below is a list of the more common file document formats with a link in each case to a further description of the program which you use to read it.

File Format List

Following is a list of the major formats which hold text documents in digital records. If you click on the link for any of them you will be taken to a description of that format, and then given the opportunity to return here when you are finished reading that.

Why should all this matter to you? It may not unless you wish to open that file and read it. In order to do that, you need to have a program on your computer which is capable of reading the contents of the file and rendering them to you in an understandable form.

Do you need to have all these programs on your computer? No, not necessarily. But you must have a program which can read the format for the file you wish to use.

Pick the Document Formats You Want to Use and Stick With Them



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