1. the shape and size of a book as determined by the number of times the original sheet has been folded to form the leaves.Compare duodecimo, folio(def 2), octavo, quarto.
  2. the general physical appearance of a book, magazine, or newspaper, such as the typeface, binding, quality of paper, margins, etc.
  3. the organization, plan, style, or type of something: The format of the show allowed for topical and controversial gags.
  4. Computers. the arrangement of data for computer input or output, such as the number and size of fields in a record or the spacing and punctuation of information in a report.

verb (used with object), for·mat·ted, for·mat·ting.

  1. to plan or provide a format for: to format the annual telethon.
  2. Computers.
    1. to set the format of (input or output): Some word-processing programs format output in a variety of ways.
    2. to prepare (a disk) for writing and reading.

verb (used without object), for·mat·ted, for·mat·ting.

  1. to devise a format.


  1. the general appearance of a publication, including type style, paper, binding, etc
  2. an approximate indication of the size of a publication as determined by the number of times the original sheet of paper is folded to make a leafSee also duodecimo, quarto
  3. style, plan, or arrangement, as of a television programme
  4. computing
    1. the defined arrangement of data encoded in a file or for example on magnetic disk or CD-ROM, essential for the correct recording and recovery of data on different devices
    2. the arrangement of text on printed output or a display screen, or a coded description of such an arrangement

verb -mats, -matting or -matted (tr)

  1. to arrange (a book, page, etc) into a specified format

1840, via French format (18c.), ultimately from Modern Latin liber formatus “a book formed” (in such and such a way), referring to shape, size; from past participle of formare “to form” (see form (v.)).


used chiefly of computers, 1964, from format (n.). Related: Formatted; formatting.


  1. The arrangement of data for storage or display.


  1. To divide a disk into marked sectors so that it may store data.
  2. To determine the arrangement of data for storage or display.

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