Scientific Data formats

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File Formats > Electronic File Formats > Scientific Data formats



  • cdf (Common Data Format)
  • EAS3 (binary file format for structured data)
  • hdf (Hierarchical Data Format, from NASA)
  • NetCDF (Network Common Data Format)
  • There are several formats abbreviated as SDF, including:
    • Simple Data format (SDF) By George H. Fisher, Space Sciences Lab, UC Berkeley (A platform-independent, precision-preserving binary data I/O format capable of handling large, multi-dimensional arrays)
    • Simple Data format-DPT A new format from the Data Protocols Team for publishing and sharing data
    • Standard Delay Format A standard data structure for timing data
    • Structure Data File A file format for a chemical table file
  • SDXF (Structured Data Exchange Format)
  • Silo (a storage format for visualization developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
  • XDF (eXtensible Data Format)
  • XSIL (Extensible Scientific Interchange Language)

Astronomical and Space

  • FITS (Flexible Image Transport System)
  • PDS/ODL (Planetary Data System)
  • VOTable (IVOA standard table format)
  • SDF (Starlink Data Format) and NDF (Starlink's Extensible N-Dimensional Data Format).


Biomedical signals (time series)

  • ACQ (AcqKnowledge)
  • BCI2000 (The BCI2000 project)
  • BioSemi (BDF) data format
  • BKR (EEG data format)
  • CFWB (Chart Data File Format)
  • DICOM-Waveform (An extension of Dicom for storing waveform data)
  • ecgML (A markup language for electrocardiogram data acquisition and analysis)
  • EDF/EDF+ (European Data Format)
  • FEF (File Exchange Format for Vital signs, CEN TS 14271)
  • GDF v1.x (General Data Format for biomedical signals - Version 1.x)
  • GDF v2.x (The General Data Format for biomedical signals - Version 2.x)
  • HL7aECG (Health Level 7 v3 annotated ECG)
  • OpenXDF (Open Exchange Data Format)
  • SCP-ECG (Standard Communication Protocol for Computer assisted electrocardiography)
  • SIGIF (A digital SIGnal Interchange Format)
  • WFDB (Format of Physiobank)


  • CCP4 (X-ray crystallography voxels (electron density))
  • CHM (ChemDraw file format)
  • CIF (Crystallographic Information File, standardised by IUCr)
  • CML (Chemical markup language)
  • CTab (Chemical table file .mol, .sd, .sdf)
  • HITRAN (spectroscopic data with one optical/infrared transition per line in the ASCII file (.hit))
  • JCAMP (Joint Committee on Atomic and Molecular Physical Data, .dx, .jdx)
  • MOL (MDL Molfile)
  • MOP (MOPAC format)
  • MRC (voxels in cryo-electron microscopy)
  • PDB (Protein Data Bank)
  • SMILES (Simplified molecular input line entry specification, .smi)
  • SPC (spectroscopic data)
  • Structure Data File (SDF)

Chemical data may be distinguished in various ways, including Chemical MIME types.


  • Darwin Core (Standard for sharing information about biological diversity)
  • EML (Ecological Metadata Language)

Geographic and Geospatial

See also Geospatial

  • DEM (Digital Elevation Model)
  • DOQ (Digital Orthophotos)
  • e00 (ESRI ArcInfo Interchange File)
  • FGDC (Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata??)
  • GeoTIFF (Geospatial extensions to TIFF)
  • GML (Geography Markup Language)
  • HDFEOS, HD2, HD4 (Hierarchical Data Format-Earth Observing System)
  • KML (KML (formerly Keyhole Markup Language), Version 2.2)
  • NDF (National Landsat Archive Production System (NLAPS) Data Format)
  • SAIF (Spatial Archive and Interchange Format, Canadian)
  • SDTS (Spatial Data Transfer Standard)
  • shp and shx (ESRI Shaepfile must have components; other optional components as well, see entry)
  • SID (MrSID- Multi-resolution Seamless Image Database)
  • TAB (MapInfo dataset format, must have component)


  • graph6, sparse6 (ASCII encoding of Adjacency matrices (.g6, .s6))
  • graphML (Graph Markup Language)
  • M (Mathematica package file)
  • MAT (MATLAB matrix data format)
  • MathML
  • WP2 WinPlot

Medical Imaging

  • AFNI (data, meta-data (.BRIK,.HEAD))
  • MGH (uncompressed)
  • MGZ (zip-compressed)
  • Analyze data, meta-data (.img,.hdr)
  • DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (.dcm))
  • MINC (Medical Imaging NetCDF format; since version 2.0, based on HDF5 (.mnc))
  • OME-TIFF (Open Microscopy Imaging format)
  • OME-XML (Open Microscopy Imaging format)
  • OST (Open Spatio-Temporal) (extensible, open alternative for microscope images)
  • nii (Neuroimaging Informatics Technology Initiative (NIfTI) single-file (combined data and meta-data))
  • gii (NIfTI offspring for brain surface data, single-file (combined data and meta-data) style)
  • .img,.hdr (NIfTI offspring for brain surface data, dual-file (separate data and meta-data, respectively) style)
  • SDM (Signed Differential Mapping- brain maps(.sdm))

Oceanographic, Atmospheric and Meteorological

  • GRIB (Grid in Binary)
  • BUFR (Binary Universal Format Representation)
  • IOAPI (netCDF augmented with metadata from the I/O API)
  • PP (UK Met Office format for weather model data)


  • CGNS (Computational Fluid Dynamics General Notation System)
  • NeXuS (Common data format for neutron, x-ray and muon science)
  • QCDml (Lattice QCD gauge configuration markup language)

Scientific Signal data

  • ACQ (AcqKnowledge File Format for Windows)
  • BioSemi (BDF) data format
  • BKR (EEG data format)
  • CFWB (Chart Data File Format)
  • EDF (European data format)
  • FEF (File Exchange Format for Vital signs)
  • GDF (General data formats for biomedical signals)
  • GMS (Gesture And Motion Signal format)
  • IROCK (intelliRock Sensor Data File Format)
  • MFER (Medical waveform Format Encoding Rules)
  • REC (ATI Vision recorder file)
  • SCP-ECG (Standard Communication Protocol for Computer assisted electrocardiography)
  • SEG Y (Reflection seismology data format)
  • SIGIF (SIGnal Interchange Format)

Social Sciences

  • DDI (Data Documentation Initiative)
  • SAS (Statistical package)
  • SPSS (Statistical package)
  • Stata (Statistical package)
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