What the Tiff?
One of the most common issues I face when creating artwork for clients is the confusion of file types. I've been sent photocopies of business cards, screenshots of websites and letterheads in the post with the request to 'take the logo from this'. While not impossible, having your logo in all the formats you need for both on and offline design is pretty essential.
If you don't know the difference between a jpg and a png, rest assured that there's absolutely no judgement from me because unless you've been told, how are you to know?
So, here's a brief rundown of the various file types, what they're best for and what the names mean.
JPG or JPEG Firstly, there's no difference between a jpg and a jpeg file, so don't worry if you have both. The file is an acronym of 'Joint Photographic Experts Group', who created the standard. Jpegs are the most commonly used method of saving images, and its introduction in the early 90s changed the face of digital imagery. Jpegs are great for compression, as you don't lose too much quality but have a small file size, but remember that once uploaded to something like Facebook your image will be further compressed. If you are asked to send your logo for print, don't send one you've retrieved from Facebook, it will look ropey.
A Jpeg of your logo will be sent using RGB, which is the best colour model for digital display. It has a solid white background and as a raster file, isn't ideal for scaling to large sizes. It's best used on your website or social media pages.
I love Portable Network Graphics. It maintains a nice, crisp display no matter the size and has a transparent background, which is ideal for online design. In a time where people are creating their own social graphics with the likes of Canva, a PNG of your logo is an essential in your toolkit. I also provide my clients with a variety of PNG files to suit different background colours - my own logo is an example of this, I have it in both black and white.
A PNG is also a raster file type, so is un-editable, doesn't scale to large format well and is made up using RGB so is not suitable for print.
PDFs (portable document formats) are another regular feature in your business life. It's a format that allows both copy and images (raster and vector) to be saved and downloaded easily. This type of file is scalable, so it can be used for banners, billboards and print ads as well as for smaller scale like business cards, stationery and flyers. This is the only file that should be sent to a designer for print, as it maintains all the integrity needed for printing. The PDFs I supply are unlocked for editing, so any other designer is able to open it and change it if needed.
When you view a PDF (unless you have design software), you will see a white background. However, when placed in InDesign, Illustrator or other design programmes, it becomes transparent.
Ai & EPS
I create the vast majority of my logos in Adobe Illustrator. As much as I hate a market monopoly, it's what is industry standard so they kinda have you. I will always send a client the source file since part of what you pay for is ownership if the design. Unless you have the Adobe suite, you won't be able to open an .ai file, but please save it. It's often asked for by designers creating things like shop signage, vehicle graphics and the like. An .eps is an open format (Ai only works with Adobe, much like Word only likes Microsoft). I don't tend to include this since Ai is so widely used, but I can supply if requested)
An .ico file is the titchy little guy that sits in your address bar. Take a look at the top of this page, next to the website domain - you should see a little logo icon. These are brilliant for helping people like me who have twenty tabs on the go at once - one quick glance and I can see which page I want to view. These are also used for app icons, so if you're thinking of creating an app, this is important.
I don't use .tiff files much since Jpegs do the job, but as an FYI a .tiff is another raster file. However, unlike a .jpeg, it doesn't compress so the file size is big. It's good for photo editing, but most of you won't require that function.
SVG A Scalable Vector Graphic is used on the web and in crafting with digital cutting machines. It translates the image to XML text format. I can provide this on request.
So that's an overview of the most common file types I use in design and the ones you'll most likely be asked for if you're ordering signage, print, websites and graphics. Please feel free to send any questions to me, I'm happy to help: firstname.lastname@example.org.