What is: RTF (.rtf) File and How is it Different from Other Text Formats?

Users working with the text formats might have seen an RTF format from time to time. Most of the time the files will be in DOCX or TXT for the common needs, however, there will be some with .rtf extension. Many users that don’t know what RTF files are, will be wondering what are these files and how are they different from other formats. In this article, you will learn about the RTF file in detail.

What is RTF File?

What is RTF File?

Microsoft products, such as WordPad and Office, use RTF also known as Rich Text Format. This format was developed by Microsoft in 1987 for their products. The idea of creating this format was related to cross-platform document interchanging. Most of the word processing programs are able to read this format without any problem. This format can hold different formatting like italics, bold, fonts, sizes, and images within it. As it is a cross-platform document, the users can build an RTF file in one operating system and open it in another operating system without any issues.

The default format for Microsoft WordPad is RTF. If a user tries to save a file through WordPad, it will by default save as RTF unless the user changes it. However, Windows has stopped updating the RTF format after 2008. The only time the RTF files are used is so that the older or other platform programs can run it.

Difference Between RTF and Other Text Formats?

1. Difference Between RTF and DOC/DOCX

Both the RTF and DOC formats are developed by Microsoft. RTF is an older format that isn’t used much these days. DOC formats are more popular and common these days. The DOC format file can carry more formatting than the RTF format. RTF is simple and limited when it comes to options; it just provides the italics, types, sizes, and boldness of the text whereas DOC format provides much more than this. Because of this, the size of the RTF will be small compared to a DOC file that can contain a greater amount of data. When it comes to opening these two files in a simple text editor, the RTF file will have some extra details but can be mostly readable and users can edit it. However, DOC files are not encoded as text and it will be hard to view the information of a DOC file in a simple text editor.


2. Difference Between RTF and TXT

The TXT/Text file is a plain text file that does not contain any formatting like italic, bold, and font sizes. RTF has the ability for formatting the text. There are some text editors that may provide the formatting, but it will all be lost once the user saves that TXT file. RTF file format created in one program will stay the same in other programs, unlike the TXT file. Both of these formats are cross-platform text formats. The only formatting that plain text can have is the spaces and line breaks between words or paragraphs. The alignment of the paragraphs can only be done with RTF files and not the TXT file. Images can also be embedded into RTF files that cannot be opened by a simple text editor. However, most word processing programs are capable of reading any plain text file without any issues.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.