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The 7 most common file formats

Learn about the 7 most common file formats every creative and business developer needs to understand.

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How to use File Formats infographic

The Importance Of Having The Right File Format

File Formats, png, jpg, gif, pdf, .svg

If you run or are in any up-to-date business, you know you have a lot of digital files you need to keep track of. But what happens when you need to share one oor multiple of those files with someone else? If you don't have the correct file formats, it can create more works and tremendously slow down any project. That's why file types play a significant role in keeping any business productive. Knowing the key file formats and how they differ can help your content look its best. Understanding the file formats also lets you get the most out of your designs and saves time when receiving and implementing new work from a designer. There are different file formats, and knowing which one to use for your project can be confusing. Each format has its benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right one for your project is important. Let's look at some of the most common file formats and discuss what makes them unique.

icon of a jpg file format

.JPEG -  Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPG or JPEG stands for the technical team that developed it. JPEG is a file format that is commonly used to store digital images. The JPEG file format is lossy, meaning some data is lost when the file is compressed. However, JPEG files are still considered high quality and can be easily viewed on most computers and digital devices.

Why use

JPEGs are ideal for photos and raw images with lots of colors because they support a wide range of color depths. They're also small in file size, so they can be easily uploaded and downloaded without wasting too much space.

When to use

The file format is best used for images with large areas of flat color, such as photos. Whether sharing pictures with friends or posting product images on your website, JPEG is usually the best file format.

icon of a png file format

.PNG - Portable Network Graphics

PNG format is a lossless compression format that preserves all the information in an image file without losing quality.

Why use

A PNG file has the best quality and can maintain a transparent background. However, they do have higher data demands. PNG files can be created and opened with most image editing software, making them easy to work with.

When to use

Use PNG files when you need high-quality transparent web graphics. The PNG file format is a great choice for web design, particularly when you need to file size down without compromising quality too much - as is often the case with JPEG images.

icon of a svg file format

.SVG - Scalable Vector Graphics.

Unlike other file formats like PNG or JPEG, which store images as raster graphics, SVG stores vector images. This means that vector images use mathematical equations instead of relying on pixels to draw the image. As a result, SVG images can be scaled without losing resolution.

Why use

Vector images can scale without losing quality. SVG files are typically much smaller than PNG or JPEG files, making them quicker to load and more efficient on websites. It can be scaled to any size without losing quality, making it ideal for responsive web design.

When to use

SVG file format can be used for both digital and print projects. The SVG file format is perfect for use in logos, illustrations, and other design elements, where the size of the image might need to be changed frequently.

an adobe file format file with a photo of Keannu Reeves
icon of adobe file formats

Adobe File Formats

Adobe file formats are, simply put, file types developed by Adobe Systems. However, these file formats can be used by other software as well. This file format is used by Adobe Photoshop (.PSD), Adobe Illustrator (.AI), and Adobe InDesign (.ID).

Why use

Adobe file formats help to ensure that your file can be opened and edited by the program you're using. Second, they help keep your file size small, which is essential for storage and file sharing. Finally, they help to protect your file from potential corruption.

When to use

If you're working with a printer or designer on a personal project, odds are they will request that you provide your file in Adobe format. Adobe files are the industry standard for print and design, so you must be able to provide them if you want to get the best possible results for your project.

icon of a pdf file format

.PDF - Portable Document Format

Each PDF file format encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, graphics, and other information needed to display it. Additionally, PDF files can be password-protected and encrypted to help ensure the security of sensitive information.

Why use

PDF enables the easy creation of documents that can be shared with anyone, regardless of their installed software. PDFs can be viewed on any device with a PDF reader installed.

When to use

PDFs are commonly used to share documents like e-books, manuals, and product catalogs. They are also often used for filling out and submitting forms, as the format ensures that the document will look the same no matter who views it.

icon of a gif file format

.GIF - Graphics Interchange Format

GIF file format is commonly used for small animations and low-resolution video clips. The format was developed by CompuServe in 1987 and has since been embraced by a wide range of users, from web developers to meme-makers.

Why use

GIFs are small files that can be easily viewed, shared, and uploaded quickly. GIF is best known for its use in web memes and viral videos, often featuring short, looping animations. They can add a touch of personality to any website or social media post. So if you're looking for a way to make your content more engaging, consider using GIFs.

When to use

GIF is commonly used for small icons, logos, and simple graphics and illustrations with limited color options. GIF is supported by all major browsers, making it important for website visitors who don't want to wait a long time for a file to download and for people who view your GIFs on mobile devices with slower data speeds.

a graphic designer on his workstation
icon of a zip file format


ZIP is a file format that allows you to compress or zip up a file. The file format was originally developed in 1989 by PKWARE, Inc. and has since become a standard format for file compression and archiving.

Why use

A zip file can be useful if you want to save space on your computer or if you want to send a data file by email and the file is too large to send as is. When you zip up a file, it becomes much smaller, making it much easier to send. You can also password-protect ZIP files, which is handy if you send sensitive information.

When to use

ZIP files are also commonly used for software programs and downloads, email attachments, and sharing digital files over the internet. Instead of many individual files, use a ZIP file to send creatives, employees, or clients a single compressed file folder. This can be useful when sending many files, as it reduces the risk of file corruption and saves space.

Choose The Right File Format!

Remember, choosing a suitable file format can make a big difference in the quality of your final product! Ultimately, the best file format is the one that meets your needs. So take some time to research your options and choose the file format that's right for you.

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About the Author

Erick Leon

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Chief Creative Officer

I specialize in creating impactful branding solutions to support corporate business growth. My passion for the field and expertise in branding are evident in the successful outcomes our team is able to deliver to our clients.

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