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File Extension RTF

What is a Text Files?

The RTF file extension belongs to the text file category of file formats. The extension is best described as Rich Text Format, which was developed to support cross-platform interchange of different documents.

The .rtf file extension can be read by all operating systems, like Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, UNIX, FreeBSD, and so on.

Originally, Microsoft Corporation first conceived the .rtf file format during 1987 to address the compatibility issues regarding the sharing of document files to other platforms. The first .rtf document format was implemented using Microsoft Word 3.0, which can be manually created using Notepad or any text editor.

The data contained in an RTF document format is quite similar with markup languages, like Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), with the following conditions:

  • A backslash (\) will often start an RTF control code (e.g. \rtf)
  • \par indicates the end of a paragraph
  • Formatting is similar to those used in HTML but without the angled brackets (e.g. \b for bold, \i for italic, and so on)
  • Each codes are grouped with a curly brace ({ and })

A normal .rtf document has similar codes like the ones below:

    {\fonttbl\f0\fswiss Verdana;}\f0\pard
This is a text.

Since most text editors have a built-in support to translate markup language present in an RTF document format, the output would be made human-readable, wherein the formatting codes will be directly included into the style of the text.

When a text editor reads the codes above, the output would be:

This is a text.

(Where the font face would be in Verdana, as indicated on the RTF code)

When using advanced text editors like Microsoft Word, users does not have to manually code the formatting and styles directly into the document. The application will automatically convert your document into an .rft format, inclusive of codes and syntax normal in an .rtf document.


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