A file format is a standard way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file. It specifies how bits are used to encode information in a digital storage medium. File formats may be either proprietary or free and may be either unpublished or open.
Some file formats are designed for very particular types of data: PNG files, for example, store bitmapped images using lossless data compression. Other file formats, however, are designed for storage of several different types of data: the Ogg format can act as a container for different types of multimedia, including any combination of audio and video, with or without text (such as subtitles), and metadata.
A text file can contain any stream of characters, including possible control characters, and is encoded in one of various character encoding schemes. Some file formats, such as HTML, scalable vector graphics, and the source code of computer software are text files with defined syntaxes that allow them to be used for specific purposes.