Still confused by all those file types? Here is my guide to file types for dummies.
I provide a final logo in several file types as part of my branding process. I create a style guide and a .zip file that contains roughly 20-30 files. Yep, over twenty files for the same logo. Why? Because that’s what a good designer does. The style guide has a page dedicated just to defining these file types and how they should be used. Here, I’ll share it with you so you won’t ever have to wonder what the hell a PNG file is really for.
Where are you using your files?
First of all, there are two main media platforms where you will be using these file types. Where you are using your files depends on the image quality and file type.
Images used in print are generally 300 dpi or larger in resolution. Their size should be counted in megabytes, not kilobytes.
Alternatively, images created for use online are optimized to retain as much detail as possible while shrinking in terms of how many pixels there are in each square unit. When I prepare images for my website I size them to no larger than 1500px on the longest side and I aim for a file size of between 100-200kb.
File types for print use.
This file type should be your first choice for print projects. Encapsulated postscript (.eps)
format is a vector graphic and the highest quality available. EPS should be used for all printed material when possible. This will allow your logo to scale without loss of quality and is fully editable.
Keep in mind, home computers cannot open this file. Any printer, graphic or web designer worth their rate should have appropriate software to open, edit and use this file type.
.TIFF / .TIF
This file type should be your second choice when printing your logo. The tiff format is a large format raster image file. Unlike .jpg files, .tiff files won’t lose quality when edited and saved repeatedly. The .jpg file type will lose a certain amount of quality each time it is opened and resaved.
Read more about vector graphics and raster images here.
.JPG / .JPEG
At high resolutions this file type can be printed with exceptional quality. This is a common file type to use in desktop publishing and my choice when printing photography. In my opinion though, there are better file types when reproducing graphics (rather than images). A high resolution .JPG will do in a pinch though.
File types for web use.
.JPEG / .JPG
As you can tell, this file type is probably the most versatile of all the file types in this guide. The .JPG file type should be optimized before being used on your website to keep page load times in check. Be mindful of quality loss, though. Each time you open and resave this file type you will lose some quality.
The portable network graphics (.png) format supports transparency (has a transparent background) and can be opened and edited in most software. This file type can also be saved with minimal pixelation, retaining most of it’s detail.
These are every one’s favorite. Am I right? These are designed to support animation and so you can get sort of a pixelated effect on the images. This is because the color palette is severely limited in order to keep your file size down.
So, which file type you need is all about your end use.
At the end of the day, which file you use will be defined by how and where you are going to use it. Does it need to be sleek and high res for professional printing or can you skimp on quality because you’re focusing more on the content, like when you just want a cute GIF animation? Define where and how and you’ll be well on your way to deciding which file types your graphics need to be.
Still have questions? Leave a comment!