Working with your Graphic Designer 101: File Formats


I get various questions from clients when a printer talks to them in “design lingo”. That mystical language that only ones well-versed can truly decipher. Working with any graphic designer could be easier knowing the below terms:

Tiff File: or Tagged Image File Format, is a popular among graphic artists and photographers. This is a popular format for saving raster graphics, which is defined as a rectangular grid of pixels or color that’s viewable by screen. This file format can be opened in various desktop publishing programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Publisher, Corel Draw among others.

Jpeg File: the most widely used format for web and digital photography. This file allows for the compression of a large image file without losing any of the quality. Which helps when sending multiple files through email. This file format can be opened in various desktop and web publishing programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Publisher, Corel Draw, Dreamweaver, Frontpage or WordPress.

Gif File: A Graphics Interchange Format is popular among web designers and programmers. Ideally because of the lightweight file size and can be viewed on various screens and devices. Currently many are creating ad banners and banners from on their website by creating GIF animations, which allow a user to view it on any device. The animation also loads quickly so essentially you don’t have to wait for the animation to load.

Pdf File: A desktop printing standard. This “Portable Document File” allows for a design to be viewed on any computer or program without a shift to the design. This is invaluable when sending a file from a Mac computer to a PC or vice versa. Depending on what programs you use, you could edit a pdf file yourself. Currently i’m experimenting with creating a design, exporting as a pdf and creating “editable” areas where the client could add content themselves. When you send press-read files to the printer, this is the file to send.

Eps. File: Encapsulated Postscript File or eps file is the other desktop publishing standard. This file has many uses, first off, from a printing standpoint it embeds everything into that one file and helps the printer with the printing process; fonts, colors, images is all embedded into that file. Bad thing is that the file sizes can be large. The other great use is more on the illustration side, as all of the logos and artwork i create for apparel is in a eps vector format. this allows me to resize a logo or artwork at whatever size I need and there is no loss in quality. This is a file many printers need especially with any screen printing of your logo, or if they need to print a large banner or poster, they will usually request an eps vector logo.

Wmf File: A Windows Meta File, is essentially like an eps file for Microsoft Word or Publisher. These files are generally not set up for professional printers as the color scale is set up in RGB. But these files are great for printing from your personal computer. These wmf files are just like the clip art you see in Microsoft word or publisher. they have a transparent background and you can also scale these to whatever size you need without a loss of quality.  I usually convert the logos i create from Adobe Illustrator into wmf files so clients can use them in Microsoft word when creating a letterhead or newsletter.

Png File: A “Portable Network Graphic” png files are like jpegs as they can compress a file size with losing image quality. This makes it a great file format when sending images over by email or other means. Png files reproduce well and from a web standpoint, the load times are fast. Like a wmf file, you can also import a png file into Microsoft Word or Publisher as clipart as well.