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TRACE User Guide

Information for authors and campus units adding research and creative work to TRACE, UT's open repository of scholarship.

Preparing Files for Upload: Best Practices


Why does file format matter?
Choosing the right file format is important for two main reasons: sustainability and preservation. We want to provide long term access to knowledge and research, which we can only do if files can be opened and read by a multitude of programs many years after publishing, and that those files have a lower risk of digital degradation or data loss over time.


What are the recommended file types? 

For text:

  1. PDF/A-1 - ISO 19005-1 (.pdf)
  2. Plain Text - with encoding: US-ASCII, UTF-8 (.txt)
  3. XML - with included schema (.xml)

For spreadsheets or databases:

  1. Comma- or tab-separated Values (.csv, .tsv, .txt)
  2. Delimited text (.txt, .csv)
  3. SIARD: Software Independent Archiving of Relational Databases (.siard)

For videos:

  1. AVI - uncompressed (.avi)
  2. QuickTime - uncompressed, motion JPEG (.mov)


For videos, please include captions for accessibility. Also providing a transcript of the video as a supplemental file in TRACE is highly recommended for both preservation and accessibility purposes.

For other file types, please visit this LibGuide from the University of Minnesota, which has the same file requirements as TRACE.

Creating Accessible PDFs (in Microsoft Office or Adobe)


Microsoft Office 
  1. Ensure Accessibility

    1. When creating a document in Microsoft Office or similar office productivity software, make sure to embed the author (sometimes done automatically) and document title into the document properties. In Microsoft, this can be done by going to the File menu and Info screen. Two arrows point at the Title and Author sections of the Info page

    2. If images are embedded into your document, right-click on each image and select Alt Text. Provide a brief description of the image. This allows individuals using vision-assistance screen readers to understand the context of the image. To write alt text that is helpful, follow these simple guidelines

  2. Save for Access and Preservation

    1. To properly convert to PDF, click Save As, not ‘Save as Adobe PDF.’ 

    2. Change the Save as type to PDF (*.pdf)

    3. Click the Options… button and check the boxes next to Document structure tags for accessibility and PDF/A compliant (as shown below)


Adobe Acrobat DC

  1. Ensure Accessibility
    1. Adobe has a built in Accessibility Check tool. The tool may need to be manually added to Adobe by clicking the Tools menu and clicking Add under the Accessibility tool.
    2. Open the Accessibility toolbar, select the Accessibility Check tool, and click Start Checking.
    3. A new toolbar (see image below) will pop up on the left-hand side of the document with several categories, including Document, Page Content, Forms, Alternate Text, and more. Expand each category to find any errors Adobe detected. To fix them, simply right-click the error and click Fix

screenshot of the Accessibility toolbar

  1. Save for access and preservation
    1. Depending on how a PDF is created, it could result in a significant file size. It is highly recommended to run the Reduce File Size option in the File menu. Inspect the PDF at 100% zoom to confirm graphics and other visual aspects match your expectations. This option sometimes is not appropriate for PDFs with very fine detail in embedded images.
    2. The final step is to Save As Other and select PDF/A. This format embeds fonts and anything else a program may need to open the PDF in the future without issues, as well as preventing any edits to the PDF, thereby preserving the information as it was intended to be displayed.