The format of newsgroup articles follows the strict guidelines defined in the Internet standards document RFC 1036. Each article must contain two distinct parts: header lines and a message body.

The header lines identify information about when and from whom the article was posted. The body of the message should contain only standard ASCII text characters. No binary characters or files should be posted within news articles. To get around this restriction, binary files are converted to text data by using either the standard UNIX uuencode program or the newer MIME protocol. The resulting text file is then posted to the newsgroup. Newsgroup readers can then decode the posted text file back into its original binary form.

A collection of articles posted in response to a common topic is called a thread. A thread can contain many articles as users post messages in response to other posted messages.

Some newsreader programs allow the user to track articles based on the threads they belong to. This helps simplify the organization of articles in the newsgroup.

The protocol used to transfer newsgroup articles from one host to another is Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), defined in RFC 977. (You can search RFCs at; look at the file rfc-index.txt.) NNTP was designed as a simple client/server protocol that enables two hosts to exchange newsgroup articles in an efficient manner.


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