Selecting the correct graphics file type for a publishing job

Select graphics file formats based on job

Images vary, but not all file formats are suitable for all purposes. How do you know what’s best? In general, there are graphic formats that are suitable for printing, as well as for viewing on a screen or publishing on the web. Within each group, there are also formats that are better than others for the same task.

In which publication format are images saved?

As a general rule:

  1. Use GIF, PNG, and JPG to publish online.

  2. Use EPS and TIFF to print.

If all your prints are sent to your desktop printer, you can use JPG and other formats, including CGM and PCX, with acceptable results; however, for high-resolution output, EPS and TIFF offer the least effort and the best quality. They are standards for high-resolution printing.

In addition to the formats shown in the table below, there are proprietary graphics file formats. These are raster or vector formats used by certain graphics programs. While some desktop publishing software recognizes more common formats, such as Adobe Photoshop’s PSD (bitmap) or CorelDRAW’s CDR (vector), it’s usually best to convert these images to TIF or EPS or other common graphics file formats.

If you’re sending files for commercial printing, your service provider may not be able to tell you, but they’ll likely charge you extra (and add extra time to your print job) to convert your images to a printable format. Save time and money by using the right size for the job.

The simple diagram below shows the best use of several common formats. Find the right size for your work by starting with images in this format or converting other images to the size you want.

Format: td> Made for: td> Best choice for: td>
TR>
td> Screen display under Windows td> Windows Wallpaper td>
TR>
EPS td> Printing with PostScript printers/scanners td> Print high resolution images td>
TR>
td> Screen display, especially on the web td> Posting non-photographic images online td>
TR>
JPEG, JPG td> Screen display, especially on the web td> Online publication of photo images td>
TR>
PNG td> Replacement for GIF and to a lesser extent JPG and TIF td> Online publication of illustrations with many colors and transparency. Intermediate image editing steps for JPG or TIF images td>
TR>
PICT td> Screen display on a Macintosh or printing to a non-PostScript printer td> td>
TR>
TIFF, TIFF td> Printing with PostScript printers td> Print high resolution images td>
TR>
td> Screen display under Windows or printing to a non-PostScript printer td> Transfer vector graphics via clipboard td>
TR>
table>

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