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RTF vs. TXT — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on December 6, 2023
RTF (Rich Text Format) supports text formatting and styling, while TXT (plain text) holds unformatted, plain text.
RTF vs. TXT — What's the Difference?

Difference Between RTF and TXT

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Key Differences

RTF and TXT are both file formats that store text-based data. RTF, or Rich Text Format, was developed by Microsoft in the 1980s and serves as a cross-platform document format. It allows users to save their documents with various formatting options like bold, italic, and underlining. On the other hand, TXT, short for "text," is a simplistic format that only saves the raw text data without any additional styling or formatting.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023
RTF files have the advantage of preserving the visual appearance of a document. This makes RTF suitable for more complex documents that contain images, tables, and formatted text. In contrast, TXT files strip all these features away, resulting in a file that has just the bare text, line breaks, and spaces. This straightforward nature of TXT files makes them universally readable on any platform or software that supports text.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023
In terms of file size, RTF files tend to be larger than TXT because of the additional information they carry related to formatting. TXT files, being devoid of any formatting instructions, are typically more lightweight. This means that for the same amount of textual content, an RTF file will generally be bulkier than its TXT counterpart.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023
While both RTF and TXT formats are widely recognized, RTF offers the flexibility to retain styling when shared between different word processing programs. This makes it a preferred choice for those who want to ensure their document appears the same everywhere. TXT, being universal and devoid of frills, is often used for configuration files, scripts, and other applications where plain text is essential.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023
In summation, RTF is tailored for those who need to maintain the formatting and style of their documents across different platforms and software. In contrast, TXT is the go-to choice for a simple, lightweight, and universally readable format.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Formatting

Supports formatting (e.g., bold, italic)
No formatting, plain text only
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

File Size

Typically larger due to formatting data
Smaller, contains only raw text data
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Universality

Cross-platform but requires specific readers
Universally readable on any text-supporting platform
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Extension

.rtf
.txt
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Use Cases

Documents with styling and formatting
Configuration files, scripts, basic notes
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Compare with Definitions

RTF

A cross-platform document format supporting text formatting.
She saved the report as an RTF to keep the bold headings intact.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

TXT

Universally compatible with any text-reading software or platform.
No matter the device, the TXT file opened seamlessly.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

RTF

Typically larger in size than plain text files.
Considering its styling, the RTF file was understandably larger than the TXT version.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

TXT

A file format containing unstyled, raw text.
The notes were saved as a TXT for universal readability.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

RTF

Developed by Microsoft for rich text storage.
Microsoft introduced RTF as a bridge between different word processors.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

TXT

Represents the simplest form of storing textual data.
For quick notes without any fluff, she always chose the TXT format.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

RTF

Allows for the inclusion of images, tables, and styles.
The RTF document looked more vibrant with embedded images.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

TXT

Stripped of all formatting and styling elements.
The TXT file showed the content in its most basic form.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

RTF

Compatible with most word processing software.
Even though she used a different software, the RTF file opened without any issues.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

TXT

Often used for scripts and configuration files.
He tweaked the game settings via the TXT configuration file.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 16, 2023

TXT

(text messaging) text, text message
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 14, 2023

TXT

To text; to send a text message (to).
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 14, 2023

Common Curiosities

Is TXT better than RTF for sharing documents?

TXT is universal but lacks formatting. RTF retains styling but requires specific readers.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Why are RTF files generally larger than TXT files?

RTF files carry additional data related to text formatting and styles.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Can I open an RTF file in any text editor?

Most text editors can open RTF, but specific formatting might not be displayed correctly without appropriate software.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

What is the main difference between RTF and TXT files?

RTF supports formatting and styling, while TXT is plain, unformatted text.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Which file format is better for scripting?

TXT is preferred for scripting due to its plain text nature.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Do all devices support TXT files?

Almost all devices with text-reading capabilities can open TXT files.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Can I add images to an RTF file?

Yes, RTF supports the inclusion of images.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Do TXT files support any formatting?

No, TXT files only contain plain text without any styling or formatting.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Can I convert an RTF file to TXT?

Yes, but converting RTF to TXT will remove all formatting.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

When was RTF introduced and by whom?

RTF was developed by Microsoft in the 1980s.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Is TXT the simplest form of text storage?

Yes, TXT files store raw, unformatted text.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

How do I recognize an RTF file?

It typically has an .rtf file extension.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Are TXT files more secure than RTF files?

Both can be opened easily, but TXT lacks macros, making it less prone to certain types of malware.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

What happens if I rename the extension of an RTF file to TXT?

The file can still be opened, but specific RTF formatting might appear as raw code or be lost entirely.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

Why might someone choose RTF over other rich text formats?

RTF is a cross-platform format that maintains consistency across different word processors.
Tayyaba Rehman
Dec 06, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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