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[fawr-mat] /ˈfɔr mæt/
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.
the general physical appearance of a book, magazine, or newspaper, such as the typeface, binding, quality of paper, margins, etc.
the organization, plan, style, or type of something:
The format of the show allowed for topical and controversial gags.
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), formatted, formatting.
to plan or provide a format for:
to format the annual telethon.
  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), formatted, formatting.
to devise a format.
Origin of format
1830-40; < French < Latin (liber) fōrmātus (a book) formed (in a certain way)
Related forms
formatter, noun
preformat, verb (used with object), preformatted, preformatting.
reformat, verb, reformatted, reformatting. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for formatting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Minor corrections to formatting or punctuation are made without comment.

    Heraldry for Craftsmen & Designers William Henry St. John Hope
  • The formatting of the original tables of contents has been normalised.

    A New Orchard And Garden William Lawson
  • In a few cases, minor adjustments were made to the formatting for the sake of consistency.

    Single Life John Baldwin Buckstone
  • Punctuation, diacritical and formatting markup have been normalized.

    Little Jeanne of France Madeline Brandeis
  • formatting of references to similar Family or Genus names were standardized to the most prevalent form.

  • Capitalization, accents and formatting markup have been normalized.

    Cyrano de Bergerac Edmond Rostand
  • Some inconsistencies in formatting and punctuation have been retained from the original.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • Punctuation and formatting markup have been made consistent.

    Advice to Singers Frederick James Crowest
  • Punctuation and formatting are inconsistent in the list of references and in headings.

    British Pomology Robert Hogg
British Dictionary definitions for formatting


the general appearance of a publication, including type style, paper, binding, etc
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 leaf See also duodecimo, quarto
style, plan, or arrangement, as of a television programme
  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 (transitive) -mats, -matting, -matted
to arrange (a book, page, etc) into a specified format
Word Origin
C19: via French from German, from Latin liber formātus volume formed
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for formatting



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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formatting in Science
Noun  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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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