caitlin-horton-brand-strategy-file-types-guide

Tips+Tricks // A Guide to File Types

Let’s just cut right to the chase here. Remembering what you’re supposed to do with all those pesky different image files can be confusing. How do you know which ones are safe to use in a print piece and which ones only belong on the web?

You’re in luck! I’ve put together a complete rundown of each file type and its best usage. Plus, there’s a free download of all this for you to grab at the end!


AI — Adobe Illustrator

A vector graphic file that can be resized as large as a billboard if desired without any loss of quality. A designer, printer, or sign company would prefer to work with this type of file. It can be opened with design software.

EPS — Encapsulated Postscript

A vector graphic file that can be resized as large as a billboard if desired without any loss of quality. A designer, printer, or sign company would prefer to work with this type of file. It can be opened in design software like Illustrator and Photoshop. Note: Photoshop EPS files are not true vector graphics.

PSD — Photoshop Document

A file created in Photoshop, typically with layers and other effects that can only be accessed with Photoshop. These files are typically raster graphics, meaning they cannot be sized up without a loss in quality.

PDF — Portable Document Format

Anything from graphics to multi-page documents with images and fonts are embedded. PDFs are accessible with Adobe Reader and design software.

JPG — Joint Photographic Experts Group

A compressed image file that cannot have a transparent background. High resolution JPGs can be used for print purposes, while low resolution JPGs are only suitable for web use. The more a JPG is saved, the more it gets compressed into lesser and lesser quality.

PNG — Portable Network Graphics

A low resolution image file usually used online. It is often smaller in file size but crisper than a JPG. It supports transparent backgrounds, too!

TIFF — Tagged Image File Format

A high quality, high resolution image file, typically used for important graphics, art, and photography. It supports transparent backgrounds.

GIF — Graphics Interchange Format

A low resolution image file usually used online because of its small size. It supports transparent backgrounds. The file format is most recognizable for its animated, and often humorous, appearances on the Internet.


Want a printable to help you keep it all straight? Download the guide below!
Download the guide