Document and text files are arguably the most common file type created as the result of archaeological research. Regardless of the type of work being undertaken – whether it is field survey, desktop assessment or radiocarbon dating – the overwhelming majority of projects will, at the very least, produce some kind of final report in the form of a text document. In addition to reports, text documents can often be produced to record processes and metadata related to other elements of a project such as geophysical survey or databases documentation.
This guide aims to provide an overview of the main types of binary and plain text documents commonly produced by archaeological projects. In addition to a discussion of common files types and archival formats, this guide will also discuss what elements should be considered as significant properties of text documents, how different methods of creation influence these and what archival strategies should be employed in order to ensure that these properties survive.