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Electronic File Types, Definitions, and Examples

1. GED = GEnealogical Data  or sometimes referred to as a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) standard file.
2. PAF = Personal Ancestral File
An excellent resource on GED can be found at this link:

  • GEDCOM is a generic, database format designed to allow users to share family history database files between differing genealogy software programs.

  • To create a GEDCOM file (in most programs), go to "File, Export to GEDCOM" and create a new file with a ".ged" file extension after the name.
  • To read another person's GEDCOM file (in most programs), go to "File, Import from GEDCOM" and create a new database file that can be opened in your genealogy software program. This will not merge with your existing database file unless you indicate that you wish for the two files to be merged.
  • GEDCOM files can easily be shared with others via e-mail attachment or on a disk.
  • GEDCOM files can easily be uploaded to other databases.
  • GEDCOM files can be converted for use in genealogy companion software programs and utilities that will create things like specialty charts, books, scrapbooks and web sites.

3. FTW = Family Tree Workbook; This file is created and used by Family Tree Maker software. 
    The 'Family Tree Maker' software is used to record/organize information you've collected on your family.
    Family Tree Maker allows you to create tree charts, reports, calendars, scrapbooks etc...

4. DOC = Word Document;   The .doc format belongs to Microsoft's Word application, which is part of the Microsoft Office suite.
    These documents normally contain a considerable amount of text formatting information and can even contain pictures.
    The (.doc) formatted files can be opened in all versions of Microsoft Word and many other applications also fully support the format (such as Open Office).

5. RTF = These Rich Text Format;  (.rtf) files are similar to the common text (.txt) format, but also contain formatting information such as bold, font type
    and size etc... Most word processing applications can open and create these files.  The .rtf file format is a proprietary document file format.

6. PDF = Portable Document Format;  A file format developed by Adobe Systems, that is used to capture almost any kind of document with the formatting
    as in the original. Viewing a PDF file requires a reader such as Acrobat Reader, XPDF or Preview. Acrobat Reader is built into most browsers and can be
    downloaded freely from Adobe.


 Update:  This page was last updated on 09/06/09 by - The Dumont Genealogical Society