File formats and when to use them

When I’ve finalised a project, I generally supply the client with a range of files depending on the end use. Design work is an investment, and it’s important to end up with the correct file formats.

To help you understand what they’re all for, I’ve put together a summary of what the different file types are and how they should be used.

JPEGs

  • Can be used both for print and online.
  • They are one of the most common image file types used online as they can be compressed into small file sizes, but the downside to this is a reduction in image quality. If jpegs are also be used for print, it’s important to use them at a high resolution to ensure they look sharp and well defined.
  • Jpegs don’t support transparent backgrounds so they’ll always have a solid background. 

 

PNGs

  • Only used online.
  • They can have a transparent background, meaning you can overlay them on to any colour.
  • Perfect for exporting logos that aren’t set against a solid background
  • Generally small files, ensuring they load quickly on web pages.

 

GIFs

  • Only used online, not in print.
  • They can be saved with transparent backgrounds but as they only record a maximum of 256 colours, the end files are usually lower quality than a png file.
  • Generally used for animations or where the image loading speed is more important than the image quality.  

 

TIFs

  • Usually high quality image files, and often used in professional printing.
  • File sizes are usually substantial so it’s best to avoid using them online as they’ll be very slow to load. Jpegs or pngs are a much better option for web pages.

 

EPSs

  • EPS files contain vector graphics, meaning they can be scaled to any size and still retain their sharp edges and crisp colours.
  • They can contain text and images, and are best suited for print.

 

PDFs

  • PDFs are a universal file format that can be viewed, shared and printed by anyone.
  • Press quality pdfs are the preferred file type for most commercial printers, making them great for magazines, business stationery, event materials – the list is endless!
  • Pdfs saved at a lower file size can be used online as they can be downloaded and read on most devices. They can have links to websites placed within them to create interactive presentations, or converted into forms for questionnaires, or simply read as an e-book.

 

Sometimes I’ll also include the source files for clients. These are the original files I used to create your designs and artwork. They can include:

 

INDD

  • These are Adobe Indesign files.
  • Indesign is used for all layout work from smaller items such as fliers and posters, up to larger projects such as magazines, books and newspapers.

 

PSD

  • These are Adobe Photoshop files, which are generally manipulated and enhanced images.
  • They can contain a number of layers and can only be opened in Photoshop.  

 

AI

  • AI files are created in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Illustrator is used to build vector images which can be scaled up or down to any size whilst retaining their quality.
  • Illustrator is always my first choice when it comes to designing logos.

 

Hopefully this has helped to explain some of the most common files types and which one is best to use in different situations. If you have any further questions, please get in touch at hello@hannahhowat.com and I’ll point you in the right direction.