Graphic Design File Formats Explained

What is Vector File Format?

Vector graphics files store the lines, shapes and colors that make up an image as mathematical formula.” They are also known as EPS files.

A vector graphics program (like Adobe Illustrator) uses mathematical formulas to construct the screen image, building the best quality image possible. The mathematical formula determines where the dots that make up the image should be placed for the best results when displaying the image.

Why Should I have my Logo in Vector Format?

So glad you asked …

  • We can manipulate it better, which leads to more creative options;
  • We can separate it from the background and pull apart elements;
  • We can edit colors;
  • We can use it for other print materials, including brochures, direct-mail pieces, and other print materials;
  • The colors can be set up to be printed consistently from any commercial printer;
  • It can scale to fit a billboard and won’t lose quality; and,
  • It can be created in outlines so the font never loads differently.

What if I Have a Logo but it is Not Vector?

In most cases we can trace and recreate your existing logo in vector format.  Typically we can recreate a logo in 1 to 2 hours of work ($150 to $300) depending on the logo.

Standard Logo Design File Types

Standard File Formats:

AI File FormatAI-64
Adobe Illustrator (AI)
Native Adobe Illustrator source file format. The industry preferred, standard vector drawing program used by designers and commercial printers to generate files of different file formats and sizes. Since Illustrator image files are saved in a vector format, they can be enlarged without losing any image quality. Some third-party programs can open AI files, but may rasterize the image, meaning the vector data will be converted to bitmap format.

BMP File FormatBMP-64
Bitmap (BMP)
BMP is a standard image format on DOS and Windows-compatible computers. BMP format supports RGB, Indexed Color, Grayscale, and Bitmap color modes. You can specify either Windows or Mac format and a bit depth for the image. For 4-bit and 8-bit images using Windows format, you can also specify RLE compression.

JPG File FormatJPG-64
Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG or JPEG)
JPEG or JPG is a standard format allowing the transfer of files between a wide variety of platforms, using superior compression techniques. The JPG does not support a transparent background, and the level of compression can vary in resolution with high-quality for desktop printing, medium quality for web viewing and low quality for email. When compressed repeatedly the overall quality of a JPG image is reduced. JPEG format supports CMYK, RGB, and Grayscale color modes, but does not support alpha channels.

PDF File FormatPDF-64
Portable Document Format (PDF)
PDF is an open source, universal file format developed by Adobe Systems that preserves and embeds fonts, images, layouts and both vector and bitmap graphics of any source document. PDF files can be shared, viewed and printed by anyone with the free Adobe Reader software. Some PDF files can be used for commercial, digital, and/or desktop printing.

TIFF File FormatTIFF-64
Tagged Image File Format (TIF or TIFF)
TIF/TIFF is the standard file format for high-quality images and is commonly used in professional environments and commercial printing. Designed to be independent of the hardware platform and operating system on which it executes, TIF is the most widely supported format across all platforms. Though large in size, TIF formats are considered to be the most reliable format supporting CMYK, RGB, Lab, Indexed Color, Grayscale, and Bitmap color modes. TIF is a flexible bitmap image format supported by virtually all paint, image-editing, and page layout applications.

Standard Transparent File Formats:

EPS File FormatEPS-64
Encapsulated Postscript (EPS)
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) language file format can contain both vector and bitmap graphics (raster) and is supported by virtually all graphic, illustration, and page layout programs. The EPS format is used to transfer PostScript-language artwork between applications. EPS files are the preferred format for design professionals to transfer an image or artwork into another application. Vector files are scalable to any size without degradation since the image software uses a mathematical technique called vectoring to create the image.

PSD File FormatPSD-64
Adobe PhotoShop Document (PSD)
PSD is the native Adobe PhotoShop file format and industry standard bitmap graphics program used by professional designers and printers. This file format is popular as it can be read by both Macintosh and Windows computers. For a logo to be used across a large spectrum of uses and applications, it must be created as a vector file. A common misconception is that the PSD is the master editable file source, but this is not true for logo design. PSDs are typically raster files made up of tiny dots, that when enlarged or reduced significantly in size, lose quality.

Optional Transparent File Formats:

GIF-64GIF File Format
Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)
A GIF is a low resolution graphic file format most commonly used for web and email purposes. Almost all browsers can support the use of GIF files, which use a compression scheme to minimize file size and electronic transfer time. GIF files can be created with a transparent background; however GIF files often suffer from pixelation – the technical word for jagged edges. Many logos, as well as web navigation items, such as banners and buttons, are appropriate for GIF. This format is not appropriate for most photographs because it can record a maximum of 256 distinct colors.

PNG-64PNG File Format
Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
PNG files are high-quality bitmap images that employ lossless data compression. PNG was created to improve upon and replace Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) as an image file format not requiring a patent license. PNG was designed for transferring images on the Internet, not for professional-quality print graphics, and thus does not support non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK. Unlike GIF, PNG supports 24-bit images and produces background transparency without jagged edges; however, some Web browsers do not support PNG images.