8 Most Popular Document Formats on the Web
Table of Contents
1. Portable Document Format (PDF)
So many PDFs are posted online that having a PDF reader is virtually a necessity these days, and some computer scientists have called them a second web browser. PDFs can be used for distributing electronic books, bills, tax documents, and countless other types of communication.
2. Plain Text (TXT)
Plain text was one of the first formats you ever saw on the web, and it’s still extremely popular today. These documents can be opened by browsers as well as dedicated text editors on almost any kind of device regardless of age.
3. Microsoft Word Document (DOC/DOCX)
While the way that Word documents are stored has changed somewhat over the years, they’re still a popular medium of exchange. Both Bing and Google include special tools to search for them.
4. Rich Text Format (RTF)
RTF files are stored as text documents, but they include little hints that tell the recipient’s software how they should be rendered. They normally compress fairly well.
5. PowerPoint Presentation (PPT/PPTX)
While these slideshows are a common way to distribute information, they’re increasingly converted into individual images or even PDF files for sharing on the web. This is due to the fact that far more people have a PDF reader than a presentation manager installed on their devices.
6. Excel Spreadsheet (XLS/XLSX)
Due to its position as one of the most popular spreadsheet programs ever, Microsoft Excel’s format is readable by the vast majority of financial tools on the market.
7. Electronic Publication (EPUB)
Designed largely for use with eReaders, EPUB files combine a series of XHTML documents into a single file. This makes it easy to share electronic books on the web.
8. XML Paper Specification (XPS)
Designed originally as a XAML-based way to exchange printable documents, XPS is popular with Windows users. It hasn’t captured the market share of PDF or TXT files, however.
Why is PDF So Dominant?
Since PDF files have been around since 1993, they’re ubiquitous and they work with many different programs. Chances are that your web browser can even read them natively. Due to the fact that Adobe Acrobat can password protect PDFs, they’ve even suitable for exchanging many types of sensitive information. Acrobat is designed to work like a regular word processor, which has helped to further popularize the format by giving businesses a simple way to view and edit existing documents.
The Popularity of Online Documents
New document formats come out all the time, but some of the ones on this list are unlikely to ever fall out of popularity. You probably already have some way to view TXT documents, but you’ll want to invest in a solution like Adobe Acrobat to view and edit PDFs. Pretty much any of the other formats on this list could easily be converted into one of these two.