Design terms for non-designers Part 3: graphic file types

By Eryn Mahoney
September 17, 2021

Design terms for non-designers Part 3: graphic file types

Graphics files come in many different file formats.

These nine are probably the most common ones you will come across.

Do you know the difference? Consider this a cheat sheet. These terms are not just for marketers, designers, or developers. They are for everyone.

JPEG (.jpg /.jpeg)

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) files are best for photos uploaded to social media accounts. This is due to the lossy compression method JPEG uses to trade quality for a reduced file size.

PNG (.png)

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a raster-graphic file format that has compressed data. You typically see these with a transparent background. This is also a good file format for social media images.

GIF (.gif)

Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a bitmap file format that supports animation. It has a limited palette of 256 colors. GIFs are most used on the web and should not be used as part of your JIF peanut butter sandwich. Check out the history on pronouncing GIF.

SVG (.svg)

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) are vector-formatted images that support animations. These are most commonly used on the web. People tend to use these when displaying their logo on the web because it can easily scale and stay crisp-looking 24/7.

EPS (.eps)

Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) is also a vector file that is close to self-contained. This format can easily be placed into other documents. These are typically used for logos, graphics, and event signage. EPS files contain elements of information that were created in its native file: Adobe Illustrator (AI).

AI (.ai)

Adobe Illustrator (AI) is native vector-formatted graphic file developed by Adobe to create graphics, logos, infographics, icons, and more. You can also export a variety of file formats from this native file, including .eps or .svg.

PSD (.psd)

Adobe Photoshop Document (PSD) is a native image-formatted graphic file created by Adobe to help retouch, remove objects, and do much more to your photography. You can also export a variety of file formats from this native file, such as .jpg or .png.

INDD (.indd)

Adobe InDesign (INDD) is a software created by Adobe to design magazine layouts, flyers, newsletters—the possibilities are endless. You can also export interactive PDFs that can make a long document a little more exciting.

PDF (.pdf)

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file type created for Adobe Acrobat. This software allows you to digitally display documents, prepare forms, pre-press check, and even mark changes. We use this for our client proofs because it’s an easy way to share layouts with clients and receive possible feedback.