A Simple Guide to Image Formats

Managing a company’s logo is an important task, but also one that can come with a few technical questions. When ordering branded items or updating images online you may be asked for a specific file format, which is why it’s important to know the difference between a .JPG, .PNG and .PDF, and when and how these different file formats are used. Using the proper file format can mean the difference between a crisp and clear image appearing in a presentation or on marketing materials versus images that look blurry or pixelated.

Let’s breakdown the most used file formats and how they’re used:


This format is commonly used for printed pictures and online images because their file sizes are generally small, but not always. JPGs do not keep all digital information within an image, which is why using a .JPG for large-scale printing is not the best option. This may work for a company newsletter but not for high-quality jobs, because not all the information is there to make the image look its best. Additionally, JPGs do not have a transparent background, so the image will automatically have a white background.


This is a popular file format because it works similarly to a .JPG, but it has a transparent background and is a little higher quality. PNGs are good for online use because they keep more digital information within the image, but they’re usually not well suited for print purposes. These work well in other graphic design applications such as Canva.


By now most people are familiar with GIFs as animated images that we can share via text or social media. This file format is not used for print purposes and should be used only for online. In the early years of the web, GIFs were a popular file format for images, but that practice has been replaced with the PNG since it can hold more digital data.


TIFs are usually large files because they contain a large quantity of information, more than a .JPG or .PNG. These should not be used for online purposes, but they are better suited for larger print jobs.


PDFs are widely popular for sharing documents and images. Most commercial printers prefer documents sent to them as a PDF because it can contain all the graphics, images, colors and fonts necessary to make the final product look crisp and clear. PDFs are not used for online images, but can be used as a document users can download.

Difference between High and Low Resolution

If you’ve ever tried to print an image and it looks pixelated, it’s likely because the image is low resolution and is being forced to a size bigger than its supposed to be. When saving images for online use, you can use 72 dpi (dots per inch), but for print images, they need to be 300 dpi.

With programs such as Canva, Adobe Spark and others, it’s easy for companies to create their own graphics, but sometimes it’s a good idea to have a graphic designer available to help with technical jobs and making sure images are the appropriate size and file format. Logos help identify a business’s brand, so making sure that always looks crisp and clean is important. If you don’t have multiple sizes and file formats for your logo, talk to a designer who can create and save those for future use.

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