What the file?!

When (and when not) to use different file types

The sign writer wants one file, the web developer needs another and don’t even get us started on the graphic designer (that’s us, hehe). Confused by which file, what file, and what the file goes where?

You’ve downloaded your new branded beauties and in front of you is a bunch of file types you’ve never heard of before. You might be thinking “um, bloomies, what the file?” right now but we promise it’s easier to navigate than you think. Keep reading as we’re about to unpack it all.

Why can’t you just send me one file type?

From Facebook cover photos, shopfront signage to the gorgeous labels that sit proudly on your retail products, all of these visual elements are an image file. What makes them different is the type of file they need to be in order to best serve their purpose. 

We won’t get all technical on you, but the file type required to reveal a picture-perfect cover photo is going to be different from show stopping window signage. They require different amounts of oomph so that they appear crisp and ready to work hard for your business. 

We promise they’re not there to confuse you! By having multiple file types on hand, it means you’re able to press the go button on your latest branding touchpoint quicker and more effectively. Your printer’s going to love you. 

File Type: PDF

Portable Document Format

PDF is the Monica to your Rachel – she never skips a beat!
This file type is what you receive when you download an e-book or guide online, get emailed online catalogues by your suppliers and even when finalising important biz docs like contracts. You’ll notice that regardless of the device you open up your PDF file on, the colours, formatting and fonts stay the same. 

PDF is your go-to file when consistency and formatting is of utmost importance. When it’s time to send off a flyer file to your printer company or add a new downloadable lead magnet to your website, PDF should be your leading choice.

File Type: JPEG

noun: Joint Photographic Experts Group

If you’ve ever saved a picture from Google Images, chances are it was a JPEG file. They’re a small file size so they’re known for being speedy to upload and seamless when viewed on all devices. 

JPEG will be your go-to file type when working with images on the web. To keep your email newsletters, website images or banner ads looking crisp but small in size, JPEG images are your best option.

This file type is best suited for images that are not heavy in text or design elements. Think of a JPEG like using a photocopier. If you took a photocopy of a photocopy, the end result is going to be considerably lower quality than the original document. Every time a JPEG is saved and edited, the image is compressed and will appear of lower quality and grainier (and ain’t nobody got time for that!).

File Type: PNG

Portable Graphics Format

PNG files are like JPEG’s rich aunty that visits once a year at Christmas. They’re a first-class file, they can take up a lot of space, but we love them, nonetheless.

The biggest advantage of a PNG file (compared to a JPEG) is that every time you open it and save it, it doesn’t lose its quality. This makes them perfect for graphics on your website and for your social tiles. 

Unlike JPEG files, PNGs also support images with transparent backgrounds! So, if you want an image, like a logo or product, to appear online without a background or one with a different (on brand) colour, this is your go-to file type. 

PNG files are traditionally a larger file size so it’s important to keep this in mind when online. Too many of these babies can slow the loading time of your website!

File Type: EPS

Encapsulated PostScript

This file type is for your creatives such as your marketing department, graphic designers or branding squad like us! They’re a file used for key branding assets like your logo or icons that ensure that regardless of what size they’re adjusted to, the quality is not compromised. This is particularly useful if you’re having a design put together, new signage, large posters or even billboards. 

So, what does this mean for you? Well, for everyday promotions, you’ll choose your other image file types and leave this one saved for special occasions. Whenever you’re working with graphic designers, if you’re able to share this file with them, we can guarantee they’ll be doing a little happy dance at their desk.

File Type: GIF

Graphics Interchange Format

Let’s face it. If you don’t know what a GIF is, have you been on social media at all during 2020?!

GIF’s are an ultra-popular web image format that is typically used for animations like banner ads and as features in emails and social media posts.

You’re not going to use a GIF file for any printing business. Thanks to its ability to be transparent (think no background GIFS on Instagram Stories) and small file size, GIFS are your key to upping your online game with the magic of animation. 
Pssst. If you were ever wondering how it’s actually pronounced, it’s JIFF! Still doesn’t sound right though.

File Type: MP4

: MPEG-4 Part 14

We’re pretty sure Beyoncé was talking about MP4 files when she sang flawless.  

MP4 is the fancy file name for most of the videos we consume on the web. This file type can contain video, audio, and subtitles and can be uploaded to all of your main video channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and your website.

MP4 is the best choice for sharing video content online as it’s a lightweight file and doesn’t require any sophisticated programs to play. Easy to upload and quick to play on your audience’s end, this is THE file to stick to when sharing video.

File Type: SVG

: Scalable Vector Graphic

She’s a web designer’s dream, maybe she’s born with it? Say-lah-vee.

They generate crisp graphics at any scale, but they’re also optimised for search engines. SVG files are programmable, often smaller than other formats, and capable of dynamic animations.

SVG files work best for images that contain less detail than a photograph. That’s still rather broad, so let’s discuss some of the most common uses of SVGs online. Think: Icons, Logos, Illustrations, Animations and Interface Elements, Infographics and Data Visualisations.

Best part? SVG images can be created and edited with any text editor. SVG images can be searched, indexed, scripted, and compressed. SVG images are scalable. SVG images can be printed with high quality at any resolution.