The graduate community

Recommended formats and document conversion

Recommended formats for electronic theses and dissertations


  • PDF or PDF/A (.pdf)


  • TIFF (.tif)
  • JPEG (.jpg)
  • JPEG2000 (.jp2)
  • GIF (.gif)


  • MPEG-4 (.mp4)


  • WAV (.wav)
  • AIF (.aif)
  • MPEG-3 (.mp3)

Recommended formats are chosen because they are the formats most likely to remain viable in the future. They meet the highest preservation standards and are most likely to be sustainable in the future. The VCU Digital Archives, maintained by the VCU Libraries, will accept other formats but cannot guarantee that files in every format, particularly proprietary ones, will be able to be used in the future.

VCU Libraries commits to bit preservation for all file formats. This means that the actual bits of each file will be preserved, but there is no guarantee that those bits will continue to be functional over time.

Document conversion to PDF format

We strongly recommend that you embed all fonts in your PDF document. There are a number of options for converting your document into PDF. Microsoft Office 2007 has the ability to save files as PDF with the Microsoft save as PDF add-in.

Adobe Acrobat Professional is available in the following on-campus locations:

In addition, all of the public computers in the VCU Libraries (Cabell Library, Tompkins-McCaw Library and Hunton Hall Learning Center) have OpenOffice and doPDF, both of which can be used to save documents as PDF.

Many firms on the Web offer PDF conversion services and software.

Here is a sampling of options: