Open Document Format

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What Does Open Document Format Mean?

The open document format (ODF) is an XML-based file format specification for office application files such as word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.


ODF is being developed by the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) Technical Committee and is supported by office suites such as AbiWord, Google Docs, KOffice, and Microsoft Office 2007.

This term is also known as opendocument.

Techopedia Explains Open Document Format

As more paper documents are being replaced by electronic documents, the creation of an open file format like the open document format has become a necessity. In an open file format environment, a file saved using one word processor can easily be opened using another word processor. An open file format allows electronic documents to be less dependent on a single vendor. Subsequently, this assures long term access for critical data such as legal contracts and government documents. It also brings down the costs for opening such documents, thus granting significantly more people the ability to access public documents and others relative to their interests.

The OASIS technical committee (TC) developed the open document format. It follows a set of requirements that includes:

  1. The file format must be suitable for office documents containing text, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents.
  2. The file format must be compatible with the W3C Extensible Markup Language (XML) version 1.0 and W3C namespaces in XML version 1.0 specifications.
  3. The file format must retain high-level information suitable for editing the document.
  4. The format must be friendly to transformations using XSLT or similar XML-based languages or tools.
  5. The file format should keep the document’s content and layout information separate so they can be processed independently of each other.
  6. The file format should borrow from similar, existing standards wherever possible and permitted.

The most widely used filename extensions under the open document format include: (usage)

  1. .odt (word processing)
  2. .ods (spreadsheets)
  3. .odp (presentations)
  4. .odb (databases)
  5. .odg (graphics)
  6. .odf (formulas and mathematical equations)

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.