What file type is that again?

We’re in the business of printing. But we’re also in the business of optimal product outputs. File types have an important influence on the final printed product so we often help our clients (especially if they are not designers) navigate the sometimes confusing file terminology. The good news is that though there are very many types of graphic file formats on the market today, many of these can often be used for exactly the same thing. Many formats are interchangeable in their usage. Here are a few file types supplied as standard with many design and printing firms.

Tif file (CMYK Color) – 300 dpi high resolution (dpi means dots per inch. This is how the image is made up if viewed under a microscope). The tif file is for printing on a lithographic printing press. The CMYK color stands for the four colors that are used in “Process Printing”. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and the K actually stands for Black. This file format is often requested for hi-end print production.

Note: your computer monitor and often your home/office printer too uses RGB color. RGB color stands for Red, Green, Blue. Your PC does not have the correct filters to read CMYK color. This is entirely normal and when printed on a lithographic printing press the colors will print correct. (Because a lithographic printing press can print many more variations of the color spectrum you may notice a slight difference in the end product compared to what you would be able to print on a home office printer).

Perfect for:

Professional printing.
Home/Office printing that supports CMYK color.


JPG files (3 sizes = Normal, Medium and Small) or JPEG as it is often referred to (RGB Color) – 300dpi. These file types are all used for home/office printing in applications like Word or PowerPoint (you import the image into your document) or for web site images in FrontPage or more professional web site editing programs (html editors) like DreamWeaver or GoLive. The resolution of these files is 300dpi which in printing terms is high resolution.

Perfect for:

Home/Office printing.
Web Design
Importing in to Microsoft Office applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access etc.

PSD file (RGB) – 300 dpi. This file format is used by professional designers and is the native file format of Adobe Photoshop. You need Adobe Photoshop to open this file type. Many people mistakenly think the PSD file is your editable supplied source file. This is not true.  For an image to be used across a large spectrum of uses and applications it is created as a vector file. Vector files can be resized using the right software without loss of quality. Your PSD file can also be used for home/office printing if you have Adobe Photoshop.

Perfect for:

Home/Office printing. (Requires Adobe Photoshop. Lite version available on many new PCs as standard)
Web Design. (Requires Adobe Photoshop. Lite version available on many new PCs as standard)
Graphic Design. (Requires Adobe Photoshop. Lite version available on many new PCs as standard)


EPS file (CMYK Color) This is your fully editable master file that all the other file types are created from. You need specialist software to work with this file called Adobe Illustrator. The eps file is fully editable with the fonts flattened. (Fonts are flattened because fonts are just like software and to own a font you must buy the licence.) The eps file is a vector file vs. a Raster file. These Raster files are made up of tiny dots, clearly visible under a microscope. This means that when enlarged in size or reduced significantly in size, raster type files will lose quality. Vector files on the other hand do not suffer from this loss of quality because the image software uses a mathematical technique called vectoring to create the image.

The eps vector file can be reduced and enlarged using the correct software without any loss of quality. This file format is also used by the majority of professional printers.

Perfect for:

Professional Printing. (Requires Adobe Illustrator the industry standard for professional printers)
Graphic Design. (Requires Adobe Illustrator the industry standard for graphic designers)

AI File (CMYK Color) Fully editable stationery design master file. Professional designers use vector drawing tools like Adobe Illustrator to create logo designs and not raster drawing tools like Adobe Photoshop.

Perfect for:

Professional Printing. (Requires Adobe Illustrator the industry standard for professional printers)
Graphic Design. (Requires Adobe Illustrator the industry standard for graphic designers)

Standard Transparent File Formats:

Optional Transparent Extras:

Gif (RGB Color) – 72 dpi. Gif files do not resize well at all. Gif files are not the best quality file format and often suffer from pixalation. This is the technical word for jagged edges.

PNG (RGB Color) – 72 dpi. PNG files are a fairly new arrival on the scene. It is a web site file format supported now by most web browsers. The beauty of this format is that the quality of finish is usually high. The PNG file format also resizes much better than Gif files.

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