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A CDE Definition

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formatted text

Text that contains codes for font changes, headers, footers, bold, italic and other page and document attributes. Word processors create formatted text, and all the major ones use their own coding systems. See ASCII file.

ASCII file

A file that contains data made up of ASCII characters. It is essentially raw text just like the words you are reading now. Each byte in the file contains one character that conforms to the standard ASCII code (see ASCII chart). Program source code, batch files, macros and scripts are straight text and stored as ASCII files. HTML and XML files are also ASCII files. Text editors such as Notepad create ASCII files as their native file format.

The Common Denominator
ASCII text files become a common denominator between applications that do not import each other's formats. If both applications can import and export ASCII files, you can transfer your files between them. Almost all word processors import and export ASCII files as well as many database and spreadsheet programs. A common ASCII format separates fields with commas (see CSV).

Text Is Still ASCII
In files using proprietary formats for word processing, spreadsheets, databases and other applications, there are binary codes in the header and interspersed throughout the file that describe the file structure. However, the actual text in the file (names, addresses, sentences, etc.) is still ASCII.

The terms "ASCII file," "ASCII text file," "text file" and "TXT file" are synonymous. Contrast with binary file.

OCR Creates ASCII Text
When text documents are scanned, they are "photographed" and stored as pictures in the computer. OCR software analyzes the symbols in the image and converts each letter and digit into an ASCII character.

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