What You Need to Know About Image Formats

Typically, only graphic designers know image formats by heart. But even if you are not a graphic designer by profession, it is still important to learn about the different image formats and their uses if you are dealing with graphic design one way or another. This can help you create and manipulate graphics properly.


In this article we will discuss the popular image formats: PNG, JPG, GIFF, and TIFF, as well as other notable image formats such as RAW, BMP, SVG, EPS, and PDF.


Portable Network Graphics (PNG)

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a common image format compression that might replace the GIF format in the future. And unlike GIF, PNG is created specifically to be patent-free and is typically between 10 and 30 percent more compressed, allowing for a smaller file size. PNG files are compressed in a lossless manner so the quality of the graphics remains. PNGs are also open-source, and can be saved with a transparent background. However, the downside of PNGs is that not all browsers support this image format. It also can’t be used in animation.


Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG)

Joint Photographic Experts Group, also referred to as JPEG or JPG, is the most popular and the standard image file format. It is used by almost every digital camera. Unlike PNGs and GIFs, JPGs are lossy. When files are compressed as JPG, a lot of file information is lost. The quality is reduced as well. With that said, JPG is not ideal for images with text, solid shades, and shapes with sharp edges. A good thing about JPG is that it is web-friendly, and has smaller file size. JPGs are also not as grainy as GIFs. JPG format is best used for images with countless colors as it features vivid colors. Just like PNG, JPG cannot also be used in animation.


Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)

Graphics Interchange Format or GIF for short is commonly used for animation or a series of images Just like PNGs, GIFs are lossless and support transparency. However, GIFs cut down colors to only 256, making it ideal only for graphics with limited colors.


Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)

Tagged Image File Format, or TIFF, is a lossless image file format more common within the photography industry. Although TIFF isn’t as used as the others provided in this list, its strong points lie on printing since it yields a more organic end result. Best with layout, page posting, and photo manipulation programs, TIFF is also the choice when doing raster image formatting. Some programs that heavily use TIFF include Photoshop, Quark, and InDesign. Note though that because this format is very flexible and produces high quality images with all the color and information stored, it means that it also has a large file size which has longer transfer time and will take up much disk space.



RAW image files come straight from the camera and are called as such because they are indeed “raw” files. RAW images are huge and are typically converted to TIFF before editing.



Bitmap or BMP is a Windows image file that is uncompressed and has a huge file size. It is made up of millions of dots or pixels and can go from 8, 16, to 24-bit image. BMP isn’t as used nowadays since it’s limited to Windows programs and isn’t very web-friendly.


Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

Scalable Vector Graphics, shortened to SVG, is an XML-based web standard that exists for more than a decade now. With HTML5 now in the limelight, SVG is now getting more attention. The format lets users play around and produce static and animated graphics in very high-quality. With the SVG file format, it is possible to work and create scalable images that look great both on a small display and a big display, on your phone or TV screen, for example.


Encapsulated Postscript Vector Graphics (EPS)

The image formats above are raster images, while the last two are vector images. One is the Encapsulated Postscript or EPS. EPS is used to when you want to transfer files to different photo manipulation programs. EPS is very useful when used for images intended for printing.


Portable Document Format (PDF)

Last but not the least, PDF files — this is the most universal of all the files mentioned and it is compatible will any and all operating systems and applications. Regardless of the program the PDF is created and opened, this file format will always include all the data of the file, including images, text, and layout. It can also be easily edited, copied, shared, and printed.


Knowing the difference between the image file formats helps you choose the right format to use depending on the purpose and the program you will use. When looking for the right image format, take your time and see how each file format can benefit you. Let the information provided above help with your decision-making. In any event you require additional assistance, make sure to drop us a line! Our team at MicroCreatives include graphic designers with the skills, knowledge, and tools and software to work with simple and complex design projects and deal with any file type you may require.