As the internet and technology changes, it’s tough to keep up with the different types of files. In this post, we will try to clear up the various differences between file types and when you should use each type. The type of file you use for your purpose can have a huge effect on the quality of the media that you are working on, whether it be printed or web.
Here are some of the various types of files and the differences between them:
JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographics Experts Group)
JPEG and JPG images are raster images meaning they are composed of pixels. JPEG files are probably the most common type of file on the internet. JPEG files can be found pretty much anywhere, including digital cameras. It uses a “lossy” compression format, so the image quality becomes slightly worse each time the file is overwritten. If you resize a JPEG image far beyond its original dimensions, it will appear very blocky and distorted (This is known as “pixelation”). JPEG is a flexible format that can be optimized for website use or ready to be printed in high resolution with a higher pixel density (amount of pixels per inch).
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
PNG is becoming more popular as a web graphic file type because it is the only file type that allows for full color while supporting transparencies. It also can support palette colors, much like GIFs. PNG files are primarily used on web sites because of the transparencies and lossless compression. This allows for a small file size without sacrificing image quality.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
GIF files are a raster format that supports transparency as well as frame-based animation. GIFs are one of the only file formats that utilize a limited color palette instead of full color. This allows for a much smaller file size, which was major before broadband was more widely adopted. Animated GIFs were all the rage years ago, and are still pretty popular.
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
TIFF is a preferred file format for printing. This is because it can use both RGB and CMYK color spaces and offers a wide variety of compression methods. It also has some pretty cool features like gradient transparencies and layers.
EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
EPS files are vector files which are reproduced using mathematical formulas instead of pixels. This allows them to appear the same regardless of print size, even if you enlarged the logo to fit on a bus, it would be crystal clear without blurring. These files are typically generated through software that deals primarily with vector artwork, such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. EPS files are typically used in printed media for image clarity, especially with large format projects.
PDF (Portable Document Format)
Adobe PDF files are likely the most flexible file format in the list. They are able to use raster or vector graphics and can also be setup as paged documents for easier viewing and printing. They are ideal for any type of formatted document, such as a printable menu, item catalog, downloadable brochure or just about any other type of document you can imagine. They can be viewed either with Adobe Reader or a browser with an appropriate plugin to read PDF files.
PSD (Photoshop Document)
PSD files are Adobe Photoshop’s native working files. These are often much larger files and are unable to be opened with Windows Explorer or a web browser. PSD files typically have the layers and extra editing data intact for easier editing later. This can include document layers, adjustment layers, masking, extra data. Any type of template or anything you might want to edit at a later date should be saved as a PSD file.
AI (Adobe Illustrator file)
AI files are the native files for Adobe Illustrator and are very flexible. They can also include a PDF version built in to be able to be viewed with Adobe Reader. The AI format is also useful for working with different versions of Adobe Illustrator. This can be useful if you have the newest software but the company you’ve enlisted to print something for you has an older version.
If you need any assistance with graphic files or any other type of IT support, please reach out to SandStorm IT at 901-475-0275. Our friendly staff will be happy to assist you with your technology needs!