TP - TecPlot ascii file format

Sample file
From TecPlot user manual: ascii_format.pdf.gz

TecPlot supports an ascii input file format, files of this format typically have the subscript ".tp". There are two broad types of TP data files, ordered data and finite-element data. One of the key strengths of the format is the ability to store multiple variables.

Ordered data

TecPlot supports one, two and three dimensional data. One dimension represents curves, two dimensions the variables are known for points on a plane, and for three dimensions the variables are defined at positions in 3D space. In each case it is usual for the appropriate number of variable to actually represent the x, (x,y), or (x,y,z) coordinate.

Finite Element data

Finite element data (see example data set) typically consists of 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional points along with details of the connectivity between the points. In two dimensions these are regions on the plane, in three dimensions they are cells in space. There may be a number of variables at each point. In 2 dimensions the regions are always triangles or quadrilaterals, in 3 dimensions the cells are always tetrahredons or boxes.


A TP file normally starts with a header, followed by zone information, and finally the data. The most common lines in the header are identified by the keywords "TITLE" and "VARIABLES". The values associated with these two keywords are enclosed in double quotes. For example:

TITLE="This is a title"
VARIABLES="X" "Y" "Z" "Density" "Opacity"

  • Header information anywhere but at the start of the file is ignored.

  • Line length is limited for the header, and zone information. At least 4000 characters are allowed.

  • Special characters such as double quotes can be represented within double quoted strings by prefixing them with a back slash (\).

  • Any line starting with a "#" is treated as a comment.

Zone Record

A TP file can contain a number of zones, the start of a zone is identified by the keyword "ZONE". Then follows a number of parameters with their corresponding values. The followed parameters differs for ordered data and finite element data.

-------------  ---------  ----------  ---------------------------------------------- 
Parameter      Ordered    Finite      Description
               Data       Element
-------------  ---------  ----------  ----------------------------------------------
T="title"      Yes        Yes         Zone title.

I=imax         Yes        No          Number of points in 1st dimension.

J=jmax         Yes        No          Number of points in 2nd dimension.

K=kmax         Yes        No          Number of points in 3rd dimension.

C=colour       Yes        Yes         Colour from WHITE, BLACK, RED, GREEN,
                                                  BLUE, CYAN, YELLOW, PURPLE,
                                                  CUST1, CUST2,....CUST8.

F=format       Yes        Yes         POINT or BLOCK for ordered data.
                                      FEPOINT or FEBLOCK for finite element.

D=(list)       Yes        Yes         A list of variable names to to include
                                      from the last zone.

DT=(list)      Yes        Yes         A list of datatypes for each variable.
                                      SINGLE, DOUBLE, LONGINT, SHORTINT, BYTE, BIT.

N=num          No         Yes         Number of nodes.

E=num          No         Yes         Number of elements.

ET=type        No         Yes         Element type from TRIANGLE, BRICK,
                                                        QUADRILATERAL, TETRAHEDRON.

NV=variable    No         Yes         Variable for node value.

-------------  ---------  ----------  ---------------------------------------------- 
Text Record

A text record allows text labels to be placed at a coordinate, with a specified colour, alignment, and a whole range of other parameters. (see the user manual for full details)

TEXT X=100, Y=20, C=RED, LS=2, T="The text label"
Geometry Record

Geometry records support simple vector graphics made up from lines, rectangles, circles, etc. (see the user manual for full details) These drawing primitives can be coloured and filled where appropriate. The parameters and data varies depending on the primitive.


10 20

Customlabel Record

A custom label record is used to define special text items such as axes labels, tick labels, etc. (see the user manual for full details)