I have put together a list below of the different file formats you probably run into daily to explain how they can be best used and the pros and cons of each type. This way, you can effectively use them in your daily life, and understand a little bit better what format designers are asking for at specific points of the design process.
This is one of the most popular file formats. You probably run into this format at least once a day. JPGs are primarily used for detailed pictures, such as web images, profile pictures, social media images and your nephew’s first birthday pictures. JPGs are really good at capturing details such as gradients in photographs.
They are very good at creating a small file size that loads quickly. They are viewable on almost all programs.
JPGs are bitmap images, which means they are created with pixels. These pixels are small squares bunched together to display the image. One of the downsides of JPGs is if they are saved at a smaller size than before, the data not used because the image is smaller is deleted forever. You may have run into this if you have tried to make an image larger again, and it becomes blurry. It is always best to save a duplicate copy for resizing an image instead of permanently changing the original - just in case.
This is another very common file format. This format is great when you want to create an image with a transparent background, such as a logo you can put on different backgrounds.
PNGs are also created with pixels; therefore, they don’t resize well. It is best to save them in the exact size you need them since they are known to have a huge file size. This is important because if you have a lot of them on your website. It will slow down your website.
GIFs are also created with pixels, and they support animations. These are the file formats that you send memes to your friends mostly.
GIFs are best used for small looped videos and images with minimal colour like shapes and logos. They also support transparent backgrounds like PNGs.
This file format means that the file was saved using Adobe Photoshop. These files are created using pixels, so they are resized like jpgs and pngs.
These files allow you to save different layers and effect layers for future editing using Adobe Photoshop. This results in large file size.
SVG is commonly used to display vector graphics. Vector graphics are made using points and curves to create shapes that can be resized at any size and always keep the best quality. They are best for geometric shapes.
SVG is great for saving logos and can be used both in web and print applications. They are a great way to save illustration assets for your business as well.
Unfortunately, social media platforms don’t support this format at this time.
Files ending in .ai are created and opened using Adobe Illustrator, a computer program that creates vector graphics and illustrations. Adobe Illustrator is needed to open these files. It is used by designers to create logos and diagrams for your business. Some printers may request these files to ensure the best printing results.
.AI files are also known as the original working files since this is where a designer creates your graphics. These files are not commonly shared with clients.
Files ending in .cdr are created and can be opened using Corel Draw, another computer program that creates vector graphics. Corel Draw is needed to open these files. Corel Draw is commonly used in sign shops that require large format printers. .CDR files can also be used by designers to create logos and illustrations.
This file format is also a way to save vector graphics. They can be opened with Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Therefore it is very versatile. They can also be used for cutting printers such as Cricuts.
Most designers will share this file format with you when your logo is created to ensure that you have the tools to print and display your logo at its best.
PDF stands for portable document format and is created by Adobe. They can usually open anywhere, no matter the device or program. Sometimes you may need a PDF reader installed on the device.
PDF can create large or small documents and can be shared without losing the original design integrity.
PDFs can contain many different elements such as text, photos, vector images, video and audio files. They are not a vector format. They are more like a container for different formats.
This is a Microsoft Word document if a file is saved in this format. This file format is best for text-based materials, such as reports and essays. These documents can include pixel-based images to be added to these reports.
This file format should not be used for vector graphics, such as saving and sending logos. DOC files should only be used for text-heavy documents.
A file ending in PPT means that it is a PowerPoint document. PowerPoint documents are used to create presentation slide decks. These formats allow you to save images and text on different slides of your presentation deck.
These files are not the best for saving logos or design documents, they are best for presentations as this is their main intention.
ZIP files are compacted compressed folder files. These files were full folders that have been compressed down to smaller file sizes. This enables you to email many documents at the same time, allowing the recipient to uncompress the folder to view all the materials inside.