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Choosing an image file type could appear simple at first glance but the various ways to use and save those images are quite interesting. Some are exclusively designed for the web, some are designed for viewing, others are for printing and so on. Many people struggle with understanding the basics. For example, it’s common for website owners to be unaware of which image file types are needed for particular functions. As a result, what happens? When the photographs on their site aren't in the ideal format or aren't optimised, they wind up slowing down the loading performance of their site.

It can be difficult to understand the variety of picture file formats, but having a general knowledge of JPEGs and PNGs is important for creatives. As a designer, you will frequently be asked if you want to work with a certain file type. Also close behind are questions such as, 'Will this do?' It's little wonder that file formats can be so confusing when there are so many different options!

And if you’re a photographer or a videographer, even if you have one of the best cameras, using the improper image file format could be disastrous. In the end, you'll choose an image file format based on what you plan to use the image for, so start by thinking about your intended application. Then, think about the quality you require, how you or others will be uploading/opening the image, and how much space you have to deal with.

The two broad categories:

  1. Raster Image - In digital imaging, a raster image is constructed from a sequence of pixels or discrete blocks. Popular formats that support raster images are JPEG, GIF, and PNG. Many of the images that you find online or in print are raster images. Because of their resolution (high or low), pixels have a fixed proportion, and when they are stretched to fill a certain area, they deform. This distorts their image, and the outcome is either unclear or blurred. In order to maintain pixel quality, raster pictures cannot be scaled. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that raster files are always saved at the correct resolution.

  2. Vector images are far more versatile. Rather than using pixels, they are calculated proportionally. SVG, EPS, AI, and PDF are great for resizing graphics. Vector versions of your logo and brand images should be created, and a master file should be kept on hand. Vectors can be scaled down to the size of a postage stamp or up to an 18-wheeler! Here's a fast test to see if your logo is vectorized: Contact the company that printed your business cards or embroidered your logo on a t-shirt. They frequently have a vector file of your logo available for your records.

Here are some of the most used image file types. 

JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group 

JPEGs are probably the most prevalent image file type on the web. They are most often used for photos, JPEGs are known for their compression, which reduces image quality as file size lowers.

PNG - Portable Network Graphics

The use of PNGs is fantastic for graphics and interactive documents such as web pages, but they are not so appropriate for printing. Despite the fact that PNG files can be edited without losing quality, they are nevertheless of poor resolution.

GIF - Graphics Interchange Format

As the name suggests, animated graphics are called GIFs. You'll see Giphy GIFs appear in the comments area of social media posts every day. In its simplest form, GIFs use between 0 and 256 colours, which are encoded in the RGB colourspace. Due to the small number of colours, the file size has greatly dropped.


A TIF is a large raster file not affected by compression because it is uncompressed. When you compress, save, or copy a file, the term "lossless compression" is used to indicate that the original picture data is not lost during the process of compression.

Other image file types: 

BMP — Bitmap

HEIF — High Efficiency Image File Format

SVG — Scalable Vector Graphics

EPS — Encapsulated Postscript

PDF — Portable Document Format

PSD — Photoshop Document

AI — Adobe Illustrator Artwork

XCF — eXperimental Computing Facility

INDD — Adobe InDesign Document

Raw Image File Types

If you liked our article and found it insightful, head to Dyzn Space for more graphic design tips, or to create your own designs. Dzyn Space is the free and easy Kiwi-made online design tool where you can create beautiful graphic designs in just minutes!

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