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At heart all files are binary files -- that is, a collection of 1s and 0s. A plain text file contains no formatting codes whatsoever, no fonts, bold, italics or underlines, headers, footers or graphics. The only 'formatting' that can be applied is to use spaces to pad lines out so that they are centered or right justified, or to add extra blank lines. Let's look at some example - different file types containing the word 'hello' followed by a new line.
To see the differences, we will use a hex display, to show us exactly what is in each file, and highlight the word hello in the output so we can see where it appears. A hex display shows us the offset, ASCII code and the actual characters contained in a file where those characters are printable - it shows a period where they are not. You can see that an RTF file includes lots of extra guff. Generally, all the letters of the word will be together.
However, if you have two or more words, other codes can appear between the words, making them difficult to locate. The file below, even without any formatting, is huge, so we've removed large sections of it for clarity. A major point we have to make here is that Word relies on the exact position of various aspects of the file being fixed, such as font tables, symbol tables and other internal references. If these positions are changed e. Recovery may not be possible.
An additional point to note is that the word 'Symbol' is stored in the Word document in Unicode format see below , so a text editor or text tool will not find it. Since this file contains mixed sections of ASCII and Unicode, it is crucial that the file positions are left unchanged.
ASCII is being replaced in many applications by Unicode , which uses 16 bits 2 bytes per character to represent non-Roman alphabets like Japanese, Chinese, and Cyrillic. A text editor or text tool won't find 'hello' in this file. Now, to convert a binary file to a useful text form, you need to strip out all the binary characters - the formatting, control and other gobbledygook stuff.
Plain Text File - hello. Microsoft Word Document - hello. Unicode Plain Text File - hello. Convert binary files to text files Now, to convert a binary file to a useful text form, you need to strip out all the binary characters - the formatting, control and other gobbledygook stuff. You may freely link to this page, but you may not copy its content.