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Data transfer

Translating between file types

Data [data: information without context, eg a list of students with numbers beside their names is data, when it's made clear that those numbers represent their placing in a 100 metre race, the data becomes information ] can be stored temporarily in a computer's RAM [Random Access Memory (RAM): Memory that is constantly being written to and read from. It does not retain its contents without a constant supply of power, ie when a computer is turned off, everything stored in its RAM is lost. ] as a means of transfer from one application to another. In Microsoft operating systems [operating system: an interface between hardware, eg a computer, and the user ] this feature is called the clipboard and it can copy data from one application [application: applications serve a specific purpose, eg Microsoft Word is used for word processing ] and paste it into another. Nearly all other operating systems support this functionality.

For example you can create a graph using a spreadsheet [spreadsheet: A spreadsheet is made up of cells, rows and columns. Each cell holds a piece of numeric (numbers) or alphanumeric (text) data. Cells can also contain formulae to calculate their contents. ] application and then use the clipboard to copy the graph to a desktop publishing [desktop publishing: an application that allows text and images to be laid out on a page ] application.


  1. Certain elements of one document may not be copiable to another application, eg video.
  2. Some file features (eg text layout and formatting) may be lost in the translation to a different format.

Import and export

file is clicked, drop down menu, option highlighted is 'Export...'

Most applications have the ability to import and export data. Export saves the file in a format that's readable by other applications. Import opens a file created in another application for viewing or editing.

Back to Data, information and databases index

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