Filename extension
Internet media type
Developed byTim Berners-Lee
Type of formatsemantic web
Container forRDF data

Notation3, or N3 as it is more commonly known, is a shorthand non-XML serialization of Resource Description Framework models, designed with human-readability in mind: N3 is much more compact and readable than XML RDF notation. The format is being developed by Tim Berners-Lee and others from the Semantic Web community. A formalization of the logic underlying N3 was published by Berners-Lee and others in 2008.[1]

N3 has several features that go beyond a serialization for RDF models, such as support for RDF-based rules. Turtle is a simplified, RDF-only subset of N3.


The following is an RDF model in standard XML notation:

  <rdf:Description rdf:about="">
    <dc:title>Tony Benn</dc:title>

may be written in Notation3 like this:

@prefix dc: <>.

  dc:title "Tony Benn";
  dc:publisher "Wikipedia".

This N3 code above would also be in valid Turtle syntax.

Comparison of Notation3, Turtle, and N-Triples

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (June 2018)
Feature Notation3 Turtle N-Triples
Character encoding UTF-8 ASCII
Directives @base Yes Yes No
@forAll Yes No No
@forSome Yes No No
@keywords Yes No No
@prefix Yes Yes No
() (DAML lists) Yes Yes No
{ … } (statement lists) Yes No No
Literals true / false
Yes Yes No
(decimal arbitrary length)
Yes Yes No
(decimal double)
Yes Yes No
(decimal integer)
Yes Yes No
Syntactic sugar RDF paths Yes No No
QNames Yes Yes No
a/@a (equiv. to rdf:type) Yes Yes No
[] (shorthand for blank node) Yes Yes No
=> (x implies y) Yes No No
<= (y implies x) Yes No No
= (x is equivalent to y) Yes No No
, (repeat object in list) Yes Yes No
; (repeat subject/verb in list) Yes Yes No

See also


  1. ^ Berners-Lee, T. I. M.; Connolly, D. A. N.; Kagal, L.; Scharf, Y.; Hendler, J. I. M. (2008). "N3Logic: A logical framework for the World Wide Web". Theory and Practice of Logic Programming. 8 (3). arXiv:0711.1533. doi:10.1017/S1471068407003213.