There are many file graphic file formats and they all have different uses. We have compiled a few notes on the most common and what they are good (or bad) for.
If you have ever had a logo designed for you by a professional graphic designer chances are that you ended up with lots of different digital files and no idea what each one is for – other than good old JPG.
Each file format has a particular use. Here’s a list of the most common file formats for graphics and suggestions on when to use them. We won’t go into the technical side of things much here, but if you’d like more info then please don’t hesitate to contact us.
AI is the file format extension for ‘Adobe Illustrator’ which is a professional drawing program and the most commonly used software for designing logos and vector based graphics. It is often the preferred format to give to graphic designers.
If you want an image to print really large (e.g. as big as a house) and want to make sure it isn’t ‘pixelated’, this format is often the best to use (see also Vector PDF). Send this format to any professional worth their salt and they will be able to open it in professional graphics software. It’s main use is in printing, particularly when printing spot colours.
GIF stands for ‘Graphics Interchange Format’. It is most commonly used in websites when sharp edged line art and flat/solid colour is used in a simple logo or graphic (see also PNG). It can also support animations on the web.
JPEG stands for ‘Joint Photographic Experts Group’, the name of the committee that created the JPEG. JPG (or JPEG) is a type of compression used in digital files.
The more compression a file has the smaller the file, the smaller the file is the less clarity the image will have as it makes the file size smaller by deleting detail (see here for more info).
This is the most used file type when using images in the Microsoft Suite (e.g. MS Word). If you have a JPG file that is of good quality it will be good for most in-house uses.
PDF means ‘Portable Document Format’.
PDF files can be viewed on any computer (Windows, Mac etc) that has Acrobat Reader installed. A PDF can be opened by most professional graphics programs and a Vector PDF is a good alternative to Vector EPS files (for more information on Vector graphics click here).
Information in a PDF file is usually compressed resulting in smaller file sizes with little loss of clarity (depending on the settings when making the file) – it is the perfect file type to send over the net.
PNG stands for ‘Portable Network Graphics’.
Similar to GIF files, this file format was designed for transferring images on the net, not for good quality print graphics. Like the Photoshop format, PNG files support transparency. So, give this format to your web developer to use, not your print professional.
PSD stands for ‘Photoshop Document’ and is the extension used for Photoshop files.
Like GIF and PNG files, Photoshop supports transparent backgrounds so if you have a logo in Photoshop and it has a transparent background your web developer/designer would probably love this format as they can put images and backgrounds behind it without needing to delete the white areas. Unlike GIF and PNG files, Photoshop files aren’t usually compressed so the quality is generally much better.
TIFF stands for ‘Tagged Image File Format’. The file extension is .tif (i.e. no second ‘f’).
A TIFF file is similar to a JPG file but the file is much larger as it generally has no compression. This file format is not used a lot these days as JPG compression has become better but if you want an image that has lots of uncompressed data, this is the file type to use. (note – all compression of files means that some quality of image is lost).