10 Types of Image File Formats

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 20, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When working with images, it's important to choose the right file format to ensure the quality of your project. Understanding the various image file formats and their uses can help you make a more informed decision. In this article, we explain what an image file format is and list various types of image file formats and their specific uses.

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What is an image file format?

An image file format refers to a way of storing and organizing a digital image. It's essentially the format for files that contain graphics data. Image file formats may have data in a vector, compressed or uncompressed format. Images files take on various formats in order to rasterize digital data for use on a computer display or printer.

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Types of image file formats

If you're interested in a creative career, knowing the different image file formats can make your duties even easier. Whether you're a photographer or illustrator, understanding the differences between these file formats ensures you use the right one for your particular purposes. Here are 10 types of image file formats:

JPEG or JPG

A JPEG, or JPG, is a compressed image file wherein the quality of the image decreases when the file size decreases. In other words, it has a smaller file size than the image's original, pre-exported file. Since they lose quality when they're scaled, they're considered raster images. When you scale a JPEG, they lose quality and may appear blurry or pixilated if you scale it past the size than they you saved the file to.

You can use JPEGs for a variety of projects, particularly for photos on websites or in print media. In order to produce a high-quality project, it's important to pay attention to a JPEG's file size and resolution. Keep in mind that the .jpg and .jpeg filename extensions refer to the same thing. You can find either of these denotations on image software programs.

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PNG

PNGs are image file types often found in web projects and web design. Using this file type for a web project lets you preserve transparencies, which allows for a sharper image for the web.

Unlike JPEGs, you can't use PNGs for print purposes. Even though you can't edit them without losing quality, they still have a low resolution. Use PNGs for images that contain both photos and text or logos and exported vector images used on both websites and applications.

GIF

A GIF is a bitmap image format that you often find in their animated form. GIFs typically live on banner ads or social media sites, often alluding to a pop culture reference on the latter. At their most basic form, GIFs make up to 256 colors in the RGB colorspace.

Like PNGs, GIFs typically work best on web projects where images need to load faster rather than retain a higher quality level. Use a GIF for low-quality images and animations you use on a website or an app.

TIFF

TIFFS are raster files that contain a large amount of data. Not only do they not lose quality, but they also maintain the original image data no matter the amount of times you copy, save or compress the original file. While TIFFs can recover their quality after you manipulate them, it's best to avoid using this file type for the web because the amount of time they take to load may negatively impact a website's performance. Use TIFFs for print media, high-quality website images and for online or print photos.

PSD

PSDs refer to image file formats native to the graphics editing software, Adobe Photoshop. PSDs contain layers that make it easier to modify an image. It's important to note that Photoshop works with raster images instead of vector images. It's best to use PSDs when containing high-quality graphics data.

PDF

Created by Adobe, this universal file type aims to capture rich information from different applications and gives. A portable document format essentially gives you the ability to present information to a wide variety of audiences more easily. If you have a vector logo saved as a PDF, you can see it without needing a design editing software to open it. You just need the Acrobat Reader software.

EPS

An EPS is a standard graphics file format that's designed to create high-resolution graphics for print. You can create this time of image file format with nearly any type of design software.

Like a PDF, an EPS file extension works universally. You can use an EPS to open vector-based artwork in a design editing software, rather than common Adobe products. This helps safeguard any file transfers to designers who aren't using Adobe products. Use an EPS for a more flexible "raw" file format and for sharing editable vector files with others or in different vector programs.

AI

Known as an Adobe Illustrator document, an AI file extension is an image format that's often preferred by designers. It's also reliable for images in various types of projects, whether web or print. Many creatives use Adobe Illustrator to create artwork from scratch. Therefore, it's often the program where your logo was originally rendered.

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INDD

The INDD file format refers to an Adobe InDesign Document. Creatives often use InDesign to make larger publications, such as a magazine or eBook. You can use Photoshop and Illustrator files in InDesign together in InDesign to create a content-rich design with features like embedded content and advanced typography.

RAW

A raw image format is an image with minimally processed data from an image scanner's sensor. Typically, it's the first format a photo takes on at its creation. When you take a photo on your camera, it's saved in a raw file format. When you upload it to a different device and edit it through an image software, you save it with one of the many image file formats such as JPEG, PNG or TIFF.

You can create images in a variety of raw image files including CR2, CRW, NEF and PEF. While CR2 and CRW come from Canon, NEF comes from Nikon Cameras and you get the PEF raw image format with Pentax Digital Cameras. Use this image file type to share original and editable images with other creatives or clients.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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