File Formats 101
By: Laura | Published: 09/11/09

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between an eps, jpg, gif or png file but were too afraid to ask? Well, here’s a quick reference guide to keep you from asking a “silly question.”

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) This one is the standard for printing. An EPS is a vector file format created by geometrical figures such as lines, curves, points and shapes. This means the image can be enlarged without pixilation or reduced without losing detail.

JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) The opposite of EPS. A JPG is a raster file format created by pixels. The smaller and closer the pixels, the better the image. As you enlarge a raster image the pixels begin to separate and spread out. If you keep enlarging, you will eventually begin to see the individual pixels and your image will look grainy.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) When you hear GIF think Web. A GIF is a bit-mapped format that supports up to 256 colors (8-bit) and is dreamy for pretty much all Web graphics except photographs. Why? Photographs need a broader range of colors so this is when a JPG comes in handy.

PNG (Portable Network Graphic) The stepsister of GIF you never hear about. It’s a bit-mapped file format that was basically developed as a nonproprietary alternative to a GIF.

That was easy as ABC. If you have any questions or print production needs, contact Launch Agency’s in-house guru, Laura Carroll.

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