A tab-delimited data file is a flat data file in which variables are separated by tabs. This file format is useful when their variables cannot contain tabs and when there is limited metadata.
Person's age Gender Attitude
35 to 44 Male Somewhat disagree
35 to 44 Female Neither agree nor disagree
Under 18 Female Neither agree nor disagree
60 or more Female Strongly agree
This file format cannot be used if variables can contain tabs
If any of the variables that need to be represented in the file contain tabs it makes this data file unusable, as there ceases to be a way of working out where one variable stops and another starts.
For this reason, this file format is poor for storing text data, although a workaround is to replace tab characters with spaces.
This file format is poor if there is substantial metadata
As with all flat data files, this format is poor when there are substantial amounts of metadata. For example, it is typically a poor file format for survey data. See Flat Data Files for more information about problems with the use of this file format when there are substantial metadata.
See Overview of Data File Formats for rich file formats that are better when there are substantial metadata.
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