txt is widely know file format. Should I use the article the or not when referring to it?

I am familiar with the notion of txt format, but it could be wrong. As I just asked a question about using articles with brands, like Safari browser and the answer said I should use article because there are many browsers and Safari is specific type.

It seems to me if I apply this rule here in file format, I should use the, but as I said, it does not sound familiar, may be people do not use the as a a shortcut.

So, is it:

The files are stored in txt format


The files are stored in the txt format

1 Answer 1


I agree that as txt is a proper noun - the name of a file format - then it does not need the definite article.

Having said that, either might be considered acceptable, especially if you were addressing a non-technical audience who may not be familiar with the file format. This is especially true if you pronounce the format as "text" rather than spell it out "t-x-t" as it may not be obvious to some that you have just introduced a noun. Adding the definite article may be helpful to highlight that.

It may also depend on whether yo consider the name of the format to include the word "format" or not. Are you calling it "txt format", or are you effectively saying "the format of 'txt'"? If you were speaking about multiple formats then you might need to use the definite article to determine which you are singling out from among the other formats. For example:

We tried several file formats, but only the 'txt' format worked.

This is why, in the other examples you cited, the definite article is used:

Safari is a web browser.

We tested several web browsers and only Safari worked.

We tested several web browsers and only the Safari browser worked.

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    Ok. Then, are well-known brands a proper noun (Oracle database, Safari browser, ect.) if I am writing for technical audience? Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 11:34
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    Because the answer of this post suggest using definite articles with them. I am confused. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 11:35
  • @user9371654 the post you linked to is slightly different... I've added some more detail to try and explain. Really though, either seem acceptable for your example.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 11:52

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