It’s highly likely that you’ve come across pdfs, jpgs and pngs, but do you really know what you’re talking about? Do you know when to ask for a jpg, png or perhaps even an ai from a client? Have a read of this table so that you can begin to use these terms with confidence.

AI

Adobe Illustrator

  • Native file format for illustrator files.
  • Made up of vectors (instead of pixels1) meaning they can be modified and are usually used for printing such as business cards.

BMP

Bitmap file

  • Similar to PNG and GIF files. Made specifically to render simple yet crisp logos, type and icons.
  • Used mainly for print for simple graphics.

GIF

Graphic Interchange Format

  • Pronounced with a G not a J!
  • This was developed to save raster type, logos and graphics to very small file sizes.
  • Uses limited (index) colours, so not ideal for images.
  • Can be transparent.
  • Can be animated.
  • For web use only – not good for print!

JPG

Joint Photo Expert Group

  • This is a fast file format used for most images and pictures.
  • The most common and well known graphic file types around. (these are the files you upload to Instagram, facebook, use in word docs, etc.)
  • Pixel based and can range from quality and resolution.
  • Not good for type, logos or graphic.
  • Can’t be made transparent

PDF

Portable Document Format

  • Vector based, but can be opened without the use of Adobe programs.
  • Not editable without the adobe creative suite.
  • This is the most commonly used file in printing.

PNG

Portable Network Graphic

  • Mainly used on websites.
  • Uses limited (index) colours so not ideal for images.
  • Can be transparent.
  • If you try to make bigger or smaller on a website, they will lose quality or become blurred.
  • Not great for print as usually exported at 72 dpi2.

PSD

Photoshop document

  • Native file format for photoshop files.
  • The difference between this and an AI file is the way it is made – PSDs are exported as pixels, AIs are vectors.
  • Supports transparency, channels, masks and vector type and objects, paths and layers.
  • For print and photos only, PSD filetype is not supported for web.

RAR

Roshal Archive Compressed File

  • Similar to a ZIP file however encrypted to a much stronger standard. If you need to encrypt important information, it is better to use a RAR format.
  • Requires third party software to be able to open it.

SVG

Scalable Vector Graphic

  • Used to render 2D vector formatted files as well as for annotation.
  • SVG is ideal for type, logos, graphics and vector shapes.
  • Based on XML – therefore perfect for the web.
  • Can be compressed without any loss of quality.

TIFF

Tagged Image File format

  • Older file format for images and photoshop files. Can be saved with layers, channels, masks and paths, but does not support transparency in the saved file.
  • For print only.

ZIP

Zone Information Protocol

  • This is a folder containing compressed elements. This helps to save file space and makes the files easier to send via email.
  • Can be easily “unzipped” with a double click.

1. Pixels vs. Vectors

  • Vectors can be enlarged without loss of quality or pixelation.

2. DPI vs. PPI

  • Both describe the resolution/clarity of an image, but they’re not the same thing.
  • DPI (dots per inch) is a printing term referring to the number of physical dots of ink in a printed document but is often misused to mean PPI.
  • PPI (pixels per inch) refers to the number of square pixels that show up in an inch of digital screen (usually between 67-300).