Graphics come in many flavors but not all file formats are suitable for all purposes. How do you know which is best? In general, there are graphics formats suitable for printing and those for on-screen viewing or online publishing. Within each group there are also formats that are better than others for the same task.

Use GIF and JPG for online publishing. Although other formats for online publishing are in development, at present GIF and JPG are the standards. Use EPS and TIFF for print publishing. If all your printing is sent to your desktop printer, for high-resolution output EPS and TIFF will provide the least hassles and the best quality. They are the standards for high-resolution printing.

In addition to the formats in the chart, below, there are proprietory graphics file formats. These are bitmap or vector formats used by specific graphics programs. Although some desktop publishing software will recognize the more common formats such as PSD from Adobe Photoshop (bitmap) or CDR from CorelDRAW (vector) it is generally best to convert these images to TIF or EPS or other common graphics file formats.

This simple chart outlines the best use for several common formats. Match the format to your job either by starting with graphics in that format or by converting other artwork to the desired format.

Format: Designed for: Top choice for:
BMP Screen display for PC MS Windows® Wallpaper
EPS High-resolution printing to PostScript® printers High resolution office printing, Commercial printing
GIF Screen display, especially the Web Online publishing, PowerPoint
JPEG Screen display, especially the Web Online publishing, PowerPoint
PICT Screen display on Macintosh® or printing to non-PostScript printer Seldom used
TIFF, TIF High-resolution postscript printing (Mac or PC) High resolution printing of images
WMF Screen display for PC or printing to non-PostScript printer Seldom used

 

Logo with tagline for web use (80k RGB, JPEG file)
Logo with tagline for printing (420k CMYK, EPS file)
Logo with tagline for printing (600k CMYK, TIF file)

 

Logo without tagline for web use (44k RGB, JPEG file)
Logo without tagline for printing (392k CMYK, EPS file)
Logo without tagline for printing (592k CMYK, TIF file)