This content is no longer actively maintained. It is provided as is, for anyone who may still be using these technologies, with no warranties or claims of accuracy with regard to the most recent product version or service release.


The Rich Text Format (RTF) Specification is a method of encoding formatted text and graphics for easy transfer between applications. Currently, users depend on special translation software to move word-processing documents between different MS-DOS®, Microsoft® Windows®, OS/2, Macintosh®, and Power Macintosh® applications.

The RTF Specification provides a format for text and graphics interchange that can be used with different output devices, operating environments, and operating systems. RTF uses the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), PC-8, Macintosh, or IBM PC character set to control the representation and formatting of a document, both on the screen and in print. With the RTF Specification, documents created under different operating systems and with different software applications can be transferred between those operating systems and applications. RTF files created in Word 6.0 (and later) for the Macintosh and Power Macintosh have a file type of "RTF."

Software that takes a formatted file and turns it into an RTF file is called a writer. An RTF writer separates the application's control information from the actual text and writes a new file containing the text and the RTF groups associated with that text. Software that translates an RTF file into a formatted file is called a reader.

A sample RTF reader application is available (see the Appendix A: Sample RTF Reader Application section of this document). It is designed for use with the specification to assist those interested in developing their own RTF readers. This application and its use are described in Appendix A. The sample RTF reader is not a for-sale product, and Microsoft does not provide technical or any other type of support for the sample RTF reader code or the RTF specification. For more information on how to download the sample RTF reader from the Microsoft Download Center, please visit the following Web address: and then search on "RTF Reader."

RTF Version 1.6 includes all new control words introduced by Microsoft Word for Windows 95 version 7.0, Word 97 for Windows, Word 98 for the Macintosh, and Word 2000 for Windows, as well as other Microsoft products.