What’s the best file type for my design work?

Your design work is worth saving properly – You pour your heart and soul into it, slave over it, and do all that you can to make sure it’s perfect. However, that perfection can sometimes be ruined by saving your work in the wrong way and degrading its quality.

If you’ve ever spent sleepless nights pondering which file types will best showcase your designs –  like what’s the difference between a JPEG and a PNG? How do I pronounce GIF? And what the heck is TIFF? –  ponder no more. Here’s our guide to the most widely used file formats and how to use them effectively:

Jpeg vs TiffWhat is a JPEG?

JPEG is perfect for online photos. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts GroupIt allows for a full spectrum of colors, a super small file size, and nearly all devices and programs can work with JPEG files. However, be warned – JPEG’s decrease the quality of your file as soon as it’s saved, and that quality continues to decrease each additional time you save and edit the file. If you have typography work, graphics, or even a photo with sharp edges, once saved, you may see that some of your crisp lines now appear blurry and smeared. If you’re a designer or a photographer who’s continually editing work, or if you want to maintain your work’s integrity, JPEG really shouldn’t be your go-to option.

What is a PNG?

PNG’s do a beautiful job of maintaining a photo’s stunning quality while keeping the file small. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. PNG support millions of colors and degrees of transparency, making it perfect for graphic designers trying to save their design work (like logos or infographics) without losing any quality. The downside? PNG isn’t as compatible with as many softwares as JPEG. So if you’re trying to create something for widespread use, using a PNG might make for a frustrating experience. PNG files will also be a bit bigger than JPEG files, but if you’re just looking to save your work in its full brilliance and keep the file relatively small, PNG is your best bet.

What is a GIF? (And how do I pronounce it!?)

The abbreviation GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. GIF’s shine when you’re dealing with small or simple web graphics with a few distinct colors. GIF’s are the smallest of all the file types because they reduce every file to 256 colors, helping them to load faster. GIF’s are great for simple web graphics like social media buttons, charts, and diagrams, but they shouldn’t ever be used for photography (due to color limitations). GIFs also work for small animations, giving the world the millions of cat memes we all know and love.

PS. It’s officially pronounced “JIF”, like the peanut butter brand. To make your own GIF of your cat Princess Fluffykins, THIS website is your new best friend.

What is a TIFF?

A TIFF file is a Tagged Image File Format. TIFF is considered to be the BEST format when it comes to high-quality commercial work intended for print. Because TIFF’s are meant to preserve quality, the files aren’t compressed at all. So your TIFF file will be larger than any of the other formats, but the integrity of your work won’t be jeopardized. TIFF files also work well with editing due to the fact that your files won’t be compressed, and so the quality won’t decrease with every edit like JPEG’s. TIFF’s aren’t very web-friendly, nor are they easily sharable, but if you’re looking for a way to edit and save your professional work, TIFF’s are your go-to.

Now, keep in mind that one format won’t fit all your projects. You might have to try a multiple formats and tinker with them until you find the one that works best for your designs, but it’ll definitely be worth it to see your work in its full splendor. Happy designing!