What Is a Text File?

A text file is a type of computer file that contains plain text, i.e., human-readable characters. Computer users create, edit, and read text files in text editors, which is software designed for text manipulation.

Text files are characterized by their simplicity and wide compatibility. They are often used for creating programming scripts, storing data in a structured format (like CSV or JSON files), writing documents, and much more. Text files usually have a .txt file extension, although other extensions are used depending on the specific use case (such as .csv for comma-separated values or .html for Hypertext Markup Language files).

Unlike binary files, which contain binary data and may require specific software to read, text files can be opened and read on any device with virtually any software that supports text, from advanced text editors and word processors to simple notepad applications. However, text files use character encoding to map bytes to characters, so the correct encoding (e.g., UTF-8) must be used to display the file correctly.

In summary, a text file is a basic, versatile file format that stores plain text, making it readable by both humans and machines.