The case for writing plain text files

Derek Sivers

My written words are my most precious asset. They are also a history of my life. That’s why I only use plain text files. They are the most reliable, flexible, and long-lasting option. Here’s why.


When you store your writing in one company’s unique format, then you need that program to access it. Then the economy takes a turn, they go out of business, and your work is trapped in an unusable format.


If you rely on Word, Evernote or Notion, for example, then you can’t work unless you have Word, Evernote, or Notion. You are helpless without them. You are dependent.

But if you only use plain text, you can use any program on any device, forever. It gives great flexibility and peace of mind.



Reliable, flexible, portable, independent, and long-lasting. Plain text files will be readable by future generations, hundreds of years from now.

Coincidentally, after reading Derek's post I came across this post in my Twitter feed.

Derek makes an excellent case for plain text. Up until a few months ago, I was keeping my notes, writing, ideas, thoughts, correspondence, etc in apps like Ulysses, Bear, or Apple Notes. In January I switched everything back to plain text files. The reason? For all the reasons that Derek gives in his post. As a result, I was able to eliminate my Bear subscription and I won't be renewing my Ulysses subscription in May.