There are tons of different file formats out there in the world, and as designers, we have to know when and where to use the right ones for the job. Most of our work involves image files so this page will focus primarily on these types. Images break down into two main types: vector and raster.

So, if you have a photograph, you are working with a raster image. If you are working with a logo, use a vector image format.

File Formats Used in Design

When selecting file formats, pay careful attention to what the format was designed to do. For example:

  • JPEG is designed to be used on the web so these files get pixelated when used in print work.
  • EPS and AI files are perfect for any logo/vector work because they can be scaled up in size, but many non-designers cannot open these files on their computers.
  • PNG files can have transparent backgrounds so a white background will not show up when placing logos and artwork on websites.
  • PSD and TIFF files are uncompressed and produce crystal-clear images though they can’t be placed on the web.
  • SVG files brought scalable artwork to the web and are perfect for logos, icons, and other vector-based imagery.

Learn more about the most common image formats for graphic design in the article Graphic file formats: the most important storage formats for images online from 1 & 1 IONOS. For an exhaustive breakdown of file formats, visit the common image file formats chart at SocialCompare.

Wisdom: Scaling Images

Scaling photo image down in size will almost always be ok. Scaling a photo up in size (blowing it up) will likely result in a fuzzy or pixelated image.

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Dennis Cheatham

Associate Professor, Communication Design

Miami University

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