Rich Text Format

RTF is a document language used for exchanging text between different word processors and text-processing applications.  RTF is much easier to generate than PDF or PostScript, and is more word-processor friendly than HTML.  RTF has been around for over twenty years, while hundreds of other binary formats have come and gone.

The book about RTF is RTF Pocket Guide by yours truly, from O'Reilly & Associates.  The book explains RTF as a format and lists common constructs, whereas the Microsoft RTF specification is at best a reference.

the book /RTF Pocket Guide/

I wrote the book basically so that I could gather together, in one place for everyone to see, all the commonly used codes that I had to remember for all my RTF-generating programs. I prefaced it with a step-by-step intro to RTF syntax, and added some sections on some of the dustier corners of the language.

Along the way I got to stick in other goodies like a twips ruler (in the back cover), a decent Windows/ANSI/CP1252 character chart, and even an RTF generator for origami CD cases.

MSWord generates some scary RTF (just as bad as the HTML it writes out), but RTF doesn't need to be complicated. Here's a minimal "Hello World" document in RTF:

{\fonttbl {\f0 Times New Roman;}}
\f0\fs60 Hello, World!

Some people think RTF looks like TeX or LaTeX, but it's fundamentally very different.

The RTF email list!

The one and only email list for discussing RTF is, imaginatively, called "RTF-L". The join/leave instructions, as well as the archives, are over here!

Useful RTF Links

2014-04-21 Sean M. Burke