A .ZW file is an older file extension type that was primarily used for sending encoded Chinese characters in the past. Used in terminal-based communication, this this sort of file serves as a Chinese Text File, and is in many ways analogous to ASCII files. ZW files are very small and easy to transmit across a network, and simply store information about characters in a message. Because they are so small, however, they do not encode stylistic information such as paragraph breaks, font type, or font size.
A ZW - Chinese Text File can be opened with a variety of different software. Hanziterm for Apple computers can provide users with a way to display and use Chinese characters in the native Apple terminal. Likewise, the Windows program Njstar provides not only a way to open and view a ZW - Chinese Text File, but provides useful support and Chinese integration into browsers and Windows DOS. However, for simple reading purposes, modern implementation of Unicode has allowed .ZW files to be read by simple readers such as Microsoft Word. With Chinese support enabled, Microsoft, Apple, and Linux operating systems can all open the files in their native word processors. Word, Write, and LibreOffice will not only read the character content in the ZW files, but will also enable stylistic features such as paragraph spacing and font alterations.