File Types and You

If I (or anyone else) have designed a logo for you, it can exist in multiple file formats. These should provide you with graphics for all your basic branding needs, across various media, ensuring consistency which is key to a strong public identity for your brand.

But what are these myriad file types?  Never fear, it’s less confusing than it might sound. There are basically two kinds of files out there, one for printing and one for screens and though they can be interchanged, you’ll want to use the right file for the job.  Here are the two kinds of files…

Vector files are made of math in the form of points and lines and they can be enlarged infinitely without looking blocky or blurry. These are perfect for printing as they can be blown up to billboard size and still look great. Vector files have transparent backgrounds

Raster files are made of pixels. This means they can’t be enlarged without looking blocky…so don’t do it. They are intended for use on screens at 100%. Please use caution on social media and other web services as they may enlarge images to fit preferred dimensions. When in doubt, use the largest image allowed as shrinking is better than enlarging when it comes to Rasters.

Here are some the file types you might have received:

.AI files are Vectors. These are source files created and opened with Adobe Illustrator.

.EPS files are Vectors.  These are source files which can be opened with vector editing software.

.SVG files are Vectors. These are responsive, web-ready files, preferred for use on mobile.

.PDF files are Vectors. These are print-ready Adobe Acrobat files. Often preferred by print shops.

.PNG files are Raster files. PNGs keep text edges looking clean and can have transparent backgrounds.

.JPG files are Raster files. These are best used to keep photos from slowing down your website’s page load times. Can result in artifacting around text areas.

.GIF files are Raster files. GIFs can contain animation, though for other uses JPG or PNG is preferable.

Other graphic file types exist, but are no longer in wide use or are specific to 3D assets or animation and yikes, let’s not get into all of those if we don’t have to!

You’ll likely find that you are working with just one or two of these file types a majority of the time, but if you are confused, feel free to ping me and I’ll be happy to give you a hand.  If you are not confused and want to learn more about the various file types, you can also find details for the major file types here on Wikipedia.