Four Basic File Formats

There are many graphic image file formats – more than necessary to list here. The most frequently used ones are listed below:

postit.gif Note: The file formats listed below do not include the proprietary file formats created by the graphics applications when you save files.

For Web Pages:

GIF – Graphics Interchange Format – Images using a fixed color palette (limited to only 256 colors – not the  full spectrum of colors available to your monitor). The GIF format uses compression for smaller files and faster downloads. This format is best for images with solid colors or areas of uniform color such as illustrations and logos.

JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group – Used for photographic (continuous tone) images. Unlike GIF files the JPEG format can take advantage of the full spectrum of colors available to your monitor. The JPEG format also uses compression for smaller files and faster downloads. However, unlike the compression method used in GIF files, the JPEG compression is “lossy” which means it discards data in the process. Once a file is saved in JPEG format the data is permanently lost. If you want all the image data available for future use, save the image using no compression or “lossless” compression and make JPEG copies from it.

For Printed Documents:

TIFF – Tagged-Image File Format – Used for bitmaps only. The TIFF format is supported by virtually all graphics applications.

EPS – Encapsulated PostScript® – A file format used for both vector graphics and bitmaps. EPS files contain a PostScript description of the graphic data within them. EPS files are unique in that you can use them for vector graphics, bitmap images, type or even entire pages.


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