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Published November 4, 2019 | Version 1.0.3-4
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Citation File Format (CFF) - Specifications

  • 1. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of German Studies and Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
  • 2. Netherlands eScience Center
  • 3. Software Sustainability Institute, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 4. ITS Research IT, University of Manchester
  • 5. University of Sussex, Sussex Humanities Lab
  • 1. Software Heritage
  • 2. Software Sustainability Institute, University of Manchester, UK
  • 3. University of Tromsø, Norway
  • 4. Octiog, Inc., USA


The Citation File Format (CFF) is a human- and machine-readable - and human-writable - format for CITATION files. These files provide citation metadata for (research and scientific) software. The format aims to support use cases for software citation described in [1]. CFF is serialized in YAML 1.2, and is therefore Unicode-based and cross-language (in terms of both natural language scripts and programming languages). This specification, together with the Unicode standard for characters, aims to provide all the information necessary to understand CFF, and to use (i.e., write) and re-use (i.e., read, validate, convert from) it. These specifications are maintained openly at


[1] A. M. Smith, D. S. Katz, K. E. Niemeyer, and FORCE11 Software Citation Working Group, “Software citation principles,” PeerJ Computer Science, vol. 2, p. e86, Sep. 2016 [Online]. Available:



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