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A Beginner’s Guide to File Formats

Have you ever wondered if you should use a JPEG or a PNG — or just what they even really mean? Figuring out and knowing the proper file formats to use can save you and the client time. It allows you to avoid going down the dark, frustrating hole of why technology doesn’t compute sometimes. Also, can it help with trust in the client-designer relationship by with providing them the correct file format for their needs.

Here is a useful outline to help understand the file formats and when you should use them.

JPEG:  JPEGs might be the most common file type you run across on the web (You can also use this for prints). They are known for no transparency and lousy compression, which means that the quality of the image will decrease as the file size decreases.

TIP: Pay attention to the resolution and file size with JPEGs if you want a nice looking product.

PNG: PNGs are not suitable for print, but are great for web pages because they make for sharper, web-quality images. PNGs are lossless, which means you can modify them and not lose quality, however they are still low in resolution. They’re great for logos and render images with smooth edges.

TIP: PNGs are saved with a transparent background instead of those pesky white ones!

TIF: TIF is a larger raster file that doesn’t lose quality. It is the most universal and most widely supported format across all platforms (ie. Mac, Windows, etc.) They are best used with photographs.

TIP: Do not use this file on the web because it will take forever for the page to load!

PDF: PDF is the best universal tool for sharing graphics. They can be editable in certain software (which is great for clients) and view as if it was a printed document

TIP: Be careful of the size of your PDF however, because it may feel like watching paint dry when it opens and loads very slowly.

EPS: EPS is a vector format of your logo. It can be re-sized without losing image quality. Due to it’s high quality, it is commonly used with print elements such as business cards, posters, and brochures.

TIP: You may lose control of advance vector editing features with this file type



One thought on “A Beginner’s Guide to File Formats

  1. This thing was really taken for granted. Analyzing the kind of file is something we forgot because we thing it really doesn’t matter at all. But after reading this post of yours, I saw its importance and from now on, I’ll be more curious of what file format I’ll be using. Thanks for sharing this one.

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