IMSLP:File formats

On this page you can find some information on the file formats used in IMSLP. If you want to download the PDF file of the score you're currently looking for, you clicked the wrong link. Please go back and click on the score description to retrieve the PDF.



These are the only file formats IMSLP accepts for scores. Raw image files, whether loose or ZIPped, will be removed.


Braille Ready Format (BRF) is a plain text-based file format used for transmitting files with Braille characters. BRF files can primarily be embossed on paper using a braille embosser or read through a refreshable braille display. Other uses include converting the files into audio using a text-to-speech (TTS) application or into visual content in a text editor for reading by a sighted person. Braille scores in BRF files can thus be viewed using the following methods:

Braille scores available on IMSLP should follow the guidelines of the New International Manual of Braille Music Notation (1996), published by the Braille Music Subcommittee of the World Blind Union. All relevant information about the method of transcription and the correct layout of the scores is presented next to each file.


Portable Document Format (PDF) is the main type of document used here on IMSLP for music scores. To view PDF files, download one of the recommended clients:

  • Foxit PDF Reader - A free PDF reader. This is the recommended PDF reader for IMSLP; the official Adobe PDF reader is considerably slower.

For Ubuntu users who browse the web with Firefox, click here to install Mozplugger. Mozplugger embeds the Evince PDF Reader (among other things) inside Firefox. Evince is installed by default, but you can make sure by clicking here.

For Mac (OS X) users, creating PDF files is possible without additional software. A tutorial can be found here.

  • PDF Creator - Printer driver that lets you print to PDF (Windows only).
  • PDF Split and Merge - A graphic Java program which allows you to merge/split PDF files. More information on this program can be found here. Recommended for PDF manipulation.
  • PDFtk - A command-line program which allows you to merge/split PDF files, among a list of other things.

Note: On rare occasions, MacOS users may find that Preview is not compatible with a PDF. In this case, try another program.

Related Pages


Compressed MusicXML (MXL) is an open-specification music typeset format developed by MakeMusic, Inc. that is supported by a number of music notation softwares, including MuseScore, Finale and Sibelius. Because different notation software may render MusicXML slightly differently, the official rendering standard on IMSLP is the open-source MuseScore notation software.


MSCZ is the native file format for MuseScore.


Other source files (.sib, .mus, .ly, etc.) may be uploaded if archived in a single ZIP. Each source file must also be uploaded separately in PDF format. Isolated ZIP files will not be accepted, nor will loose notation files. Note that this is the only permitted use of the ZIP format.

To extract files from a ZIP file, you can use one of the following applications:

  • 7-Zip - 7-Ζip is an open source application for both Windows and Linux that extracts various archive files including ZIP files.
  • ZipIt - ZipIt is an application for Macintosh with which you can extract/create ZIP files.

Note, also, that in the latest version of most known operating systems (Windows, Linux, Macintosh) there are pre-installed applications with which you can open ZIP files (Windows XP and up have WinZip installed, in Linux there is Ark and 7-Zip etc).


Permitted recording file types

  • Audio: MP3, OGG, MP4, FLAC, MIDI
  • Video: MP4

Codecs information

FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. As it is lossless, there is no loss of audio fidelity during conversion to and from this format, unlike in formats such as Ogg Vorbis and MP3. However, it tends to take up more space. FLAC provides compression levels from L0 (little to no compression) to L8 (maximum compression). All of these compression levels are lossless, but the higher compression levels use more CPU to encode and slightly more to decode in order to represent the exact same data in less space.

MP3 stands for MPEG Audio Layer III. It is a lossy format that supports various different bitrate settings. MP3 compression is available in a variety of different flavors, including CBR (constant bit rate), VBR (variable bit rate), and ABR (average bit rate). In MP3 CBR encoding, audio is represented in a user-defined bitrate. Because the bit rate does not change at all in CBR, less complex parts are inefficiently encoded with higher bitrates. Common bitrates (in kilobits per second) for CBR include 96, 128, 160, 192, 256, and 320. On the other hand, in MP3 VBR encoding, audio is represented using a quality setting. The encoder uses this quality setting to determine different bitrate settings for parts of audio files rather than entire audio files, so complex parts get higher bitrates and less complex parts get lower bitrates.

OGG stands for Ogg Vorbis. Ogg Vorbis is very similar to MP3, but it uses variable bitrate encoding. It uses different internal techniques to encode audio.

MP4 is a container format that can contain audio, video, and other streams. It is often used to store videos, but can also be used to store only audio. Typically, audio in MP4 containers is encoded in AAC or MP3 (which are lossy formats), but ALAC (a lossless format) is also normally stored in MP4. MP4 files may also have the extension M4A (for MP4 Audio).

MIDI is a file format that can store musical sequences. When played back, the sequences are read by the computer, which creates a synthesized performance of the music within the MIDI file.


  • To make sure that there is no loss of fidelity during the processing or uploading of a recording, make sure to use only lossless audio formats (WAV, FLAC, ALAC, etc.) when transferring between programs.
  • Only compress audio with a lossy codec once! If lossy files are compressed again, even with the same codec and same settings, they will lose even more fidelity than they did during the first compression!


Raw PNG and JPG images can be uploaded using Special:Upload, found in the 'toolbox' section in the left sidebar. The following are accepted uses for these formats:

  • Composer pictures and signatures
  • Sample (preview) images for individual PDFs
  • Thumbnail images for groups of PDFs

Deprecated Formats


DJVU is a file format very similar to PDF, and is conceived as a replacement for PDF. DJVU is especially designed for scanned documents, so the document legibility is higher than PDF at the same file size. Detailed information can be found here.

Some applications that can view/create DJVU files:

  • WinDJView - The best free DJVU viewer out there (it's open source too). Its interface is almost exactly like Acrobat Reader, except it is much faster.
  • MacDJView - Basically WinDJView for macs.


File formats used by Finale and Score. The code is not interchangeable between the two programmes.

Finale MUS files can be read and printed using the free Finale Reader.

MUS files cannot be uploaded directly, but instead should be archived in a ZIP file (see above)


File format used by Sibelius. SIB files can be read/printed after installing the free Scorch plugin.

SIB files cannot be uploaded directly, but instead should be archived in a ZIP file (see above)

See also