Information published in machine-readable formats is presented in a structured way (not free text) that can be read automatically by a computer. Formats such as XML or spreadsheets (XLSX, CSV) are machine-readable formats. Data in traditional word-processed documents, HTML and PDF files are easily read by humans but are difficult for machines to interpret. Publishing data in a structured, machine-readable open format allows activities of different organisations to be quickly collected and compared. By contrast, comparing activities across multiple organisations or countries would require searching multiple websites and aggregating information published in different PDF files. This difference is reflected in the Index scoring, whereby organisations can get more points on indicators published in machine-readable formats. Data published in the IATI Standard, the only open standard for aid and development finance data, scores highest, followed by data published in other machine-readable formats, then websites and finally PDF files.
For details on the scores given per format, please see the 2022 technical paper.