Plain text

In short

Various instances where plain text is used such as running text, lists, log files, configuration files.

item info
types Text (plain)
preferred ⚠️ under conditions
extensions .cfg, .ini, .log, .lst, .text, .txt
related formats CSS, CSV, HTML, JSON, Markdown, SQL, TeX, XML, YAML
wikipedia Plain_text, UTF-8, Byte_order_mark


Plain text is a data type that requires very little software to interpret it. The software that is required, is usually part of the operating system, such as notepad on Windows, Text Edit on the Mac, or the Terminal or command prompt on all systems.

Plain text is used for text without formatting, for configuration documents, for logging, for data, and for programming.

It can be produced by humans, typing on the keyboard or dictating in a microphone, but also by programs, scripts and commands on the terminal.


We are confident that uncategorized plain text files using the Unicode character set, encoded as UTF8 without Byte Order Mark (BOM) or in an other UTF encoding with Byte Order Mark (BOM), can be represented correctly in most computing environments.

Program code

For program files, it is recommended to follow the best practices for that programming language. It is dependent on the programming language how the character encoding must be specified, and what the default encoding is.

See also