What File Format Should I Use?

How often have you heard someone mention a .tif or .jpeg and wonder what they were talking about? Have you spoken with a designer and wondered why they saved files in a certain format? Well, it all depends on what you are going to do with the image. So that you are not left in the dark any longer I have listed the most common file formats used for web and graphic design.

TIF – (.tif, .tiff, Tagged Image File Format) Good for scanned or bitmap file images. Is a raster file which can not be enlarged without getting jagged edges. Can be saved in either RGB or CMYK color models. Can be saved at any resolution. Perfect for Word docs when used at 150 dpi in the RGB color model.

JPEG – (.jpeg, .jpg) Good for photographs and images with gradients. Commonly used on the web. Can be saved in either RGB (72 dpi) or CMYK (300+ dpi) color models. Does not support transparency. Is a raster image meaning it can not be enlarged without getting jagged edges.

PSD – (.psd, native Photoshop file) Supports RGB, CMYK, and a few other color models. Files can not be opened unless you have Photoshop. Used by web designers and graphic designers.

EPS – (.eps, Encapsulated PostScript) CMYK color model. Based on vector or object oriented information. Can be resized without getting jagged edges. Can not be opened without having the proper software. Perfect for logos.

AI – (.ai, native Adobe Illustrator file format) Vector based images, can be resized without getting jagged edges. Perfect for logos. Can not be opened without the Illustrator software.

GIF – (.gif, Graphics Interchange Format) Good for solid color images such as logos. Good for multimedia and web page design, 72 dpi. Supports transparency. Can be animated. Is also a raster image, so it gets jagged edges when enlarged.

PNG – (.png, Portable Network Graphics) Similar to GIF file format. Good for web images, 72 dpi. Resizes better than a GIF file. Supports transparency. Not all browsers support this file format.

PDF – (.pdf, Portable Document Format) Can contain both raster and vector images. Text and images are imbedded. Most everyone has Adobe Reader to view the document.

In conclusion, depending on what you are doing with an image, there is a proper file format to use. I hope this article has shed some light on the types of files used by designers. There are other file types but these are the main ones.

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