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Definition: file format

The structure of a computer file. There are hundreds of different formats for data (databases, text, images, video, etc.). Software files are in the format of the hardware they run in (x86, POWER, ARM, etc.) and the operating system it runs under (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.). Each format defines how the sequence of bits and bytes are laid out, with the text file being the simplest (see ASCII file). See native format, foreign format, graphics formats, record layout, codec examples and extension.