File Formats Demystified

Pixels, Vector, Raster, and Bitmap… Oh My! So What's the Difference Between JPG, PNG, and PDF?

File Formats Demystified: File formats are just part of digital media’s ‘nature’. Below is a simple list of files types to help you understand the formats that you will most likely encounter (and what they are best used for).

file-name.ai Adobe Illustrator; a vector-based graphic made of shapes. Mostly for print, this is a scalable format which can be used for any professional purpose.

SVG can also be used for mobile apps, websites, and print.

file-name.svg Scalable Vector Graphic; just like an .EPS and .AI, but using HTML-like code, and used for web. The perfect use is for logos that can scale on websites for desktop and mobile.
file-name.pdf Portable Document Format. Adobe created this wonderful file-type to allow us to maintain layout and design across all platforms. We use PDF files to show a finished product. It is never a good idea to edit a PDF.
file-name.jpg Websites, slideshows, presentations, digital Most commonly used for websites and slideshows, where there’s a need to have the background show through. Best for logos and graphics. Not needed for photos.
file-name.png Portable Network Graphic. These were the first graphics files we could use for websites with perfect transparency, including graduated ramping of transparency (think Verizon logo)
file-name.eps Encapsulated PostScript. This was the original vector file format. Still in use today, anyone who can work with a PDF and AI can work with an EPS. Same thing as .AI and .PDF best for embroidery, t-shirts, etc and printing where scale is needed.


Why so many files types?

Why can’t we have just 1 file type? Well, it’s simple really; each file type has a specific purpose. Websites use digital screens and don’t need the same high-quality resolution as a large glossy magazine. If you go grocery shopping for just 3 items, you don’t take a cart, most of us just grab those smaller baskets. Same with files, they contain specific things that serve specific purposes.

Any Questions?

Do you have any questions on a specific file format? Do you think this is just all bunk and can’t wait for holodecks and transporters? Tweet: @ericrounds.com

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