What graphic formats should I use for web and print?

Question

I have an image I want to print on a brochure and put on a website. What is the best file type for each?

Answer

Printing — For any print job, the best file format is EPS. The next best would be a high resolution tiff — 300 dpi at the actual size it will be used, or higher. A jpg is okay if it’s high resolution, but the person laying it out should convert it to a tiff before it goes to press.

A jpg is a compressed file image. A tiff is more stable when running through RIP units. A RIP (Rasterized Image Processor) is the machine or software that converts your file to a type the plate printer can use. Older RIPS had problems with jpgs and other odd file formats. Newer RIPS handle them fine — but a lot of presses still have very old RIP units. I feel it’s a good idea to keep everything converted for the best ease of use.

Website — If you have a file you want to create a link for people to download , your best bet is a PDF. A PDF will be the most compatible with everyone. If you want to display the graphic on the site as an image, you’ll most likely want a jpg, png, or gif.

When choosing a file format for an image on a website, it all comes down to size. You want the smallest size possible, while still displaying a quality image. Doing this ensures the fastest load time for your visitors. Each of the formats I mentioned, (jpg, png, gif) all have their own way of handling those pixels and each are good for different things.

  • JPG: This is usually your best choice when your image is a photograph of people or things or an image with a lot of gradients.
  • GIF: This is good for limited flat colors, like logos.
  • PNG: This is great for images with transparent backgrounds, or matching web colors. Photographs look fantastic as well – although, the size might not be as reduced as saving as a JPG.
NOTE: If you are using Photoshop, you can use “Save for Web and Devices,” and see your options, sizes, and a preview of what the image will look like.
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Lena Shore

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