The data presented in an IGT must be usable to a wide audience for a multitude of purposes for a long time. The text must therefore be very portable. Future linguists will approach the data with various aims, so providing only enough information for short-term, precise study is not sufficient. Furthermore, the data should be accessible to non-linguists such as software developers.
Because of the need for long-term intelligibility of the documentation, an IGT must be annotated using accepted and understood standards in punctuation and tagging. Because linguists studying various languages would ideally relate their data to the same standards, the standards must be able to accommodate typological variation among languages.
A standard terminology can be found in GOLD (General Ontology for Linguistic Description). It should be understood that linguists are not expected to abandon the terminology specific to their area of study; they are only asked to link whatever terminology they use to the corresponding GOLD term.
Extensive punctuation standards are set forth by Lehmann. For instance, Lehmann recommends that spaces be used to separate words and that hyphens be used to separate morphemes. These standards should be followed to avoid inconsistency and subsequent confusion; even if these standards aren't followed, whatever punctuation strategy is used should be used consistently.
Alignment of the various lines of data can also pose problems. For example, oftentimes morphemes have a one to many correspondence between L1 and L2; the glosses reach greatly varied lengths, sometimes necessitating a line break that does not reflect any sort of analysis. These line breaks must in some way be distinct from meaningful ones (that, perhaps, reflect the ends of phrases).
Furthermore, alignment problems occur when L1 script reads in a direction different from the L2 script. For example, a sample in Hebrew will read from right to left, while an English gloss will read from left to right. This complication is not easily overcome, but when decisions are followed consistently, intelligibility improves greatly.