Pick Your File Type
So many file types, what do you do!
There are so many different image formats out there. Some formats are better for print, while others are perfect for the web. Knowing which one is best can be a struggle. We’ve compiled a short primer on the most popular so you know which format to request when you need it. This is part one of a two part series and is focused on web files.
What is a JPEG?
JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group (you’ll know for the next trivia night) and that mouthful is usually found on the internet. These files are compressed and much smaller than a raw file which makes them best for uploading to social sites or being used in a newsletter. The majority of image programs will open a JPEG file, but that doesn’t mean you should use them in print. Due to the compressed nature of a JPEG you lose many details and they may have a grainy look when printed. Side eye any designer who gives you your art files in this format.
What is a PNG?
PNG is the shortened form of Portable Network Graphic and are commonly used as graphics on the web. PNGs are not animated like GIFS and they are not compressed like JPEGs. Because these files are not compressed they can be too large to use on many social media sites. Like a JPEG however most image programs will open a PNG and you will be able to save the file as a JPEG to compress it. PNGs may not be fantastic for shipping across the web due to their size, but they are good for print, due to their quality and clarity. Keep their size in mind and how that can affect the speed of your website when using them online.
What is a GIF?
You’ve probably seen the internet stuffed to the brim with GIFs and never given them much thought. GIFS are an older file format like the JPEG and it stands for Graphics Interchange Format. GIFS are also compressed files that support animations so you’ve probably sent one or two to a friend. A GIF is a web based file only – don’t use this in print and again be aware that because they are compressed the image quality can suffer extremely.
What do you do with them?
That depends on what you are hoping to use the particular file for. It’s important to note that while you can print with PNG files many designers frown on it as they are not really intended for print. These are the 3 files most associated with web use and they are the file types you need to know and be aware of in the digital world.
Keep an eye out for the next part in our file series on the print file types you need to know.