PDFs, JPEGS and more: A Guide to File Formats

PDFs, JPEGS and more: A Guide to File Formats

The print industry, like many others, is surrounded by jargon. Floundered by the different file types? Read on to discover the difference between the most popular formats for print submission:

PDF – Most people have come across PDFs – even if they weren’t aware of it at the time. The abbreviation stands for Portable Document Format.  According to Wikipedia ‘PDF is a file format used to present documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware and operating systems.’ In a nutshell, PDFs allow everyone to view the same document regardless of their equipment.  PDFs are therefore our preferred format for submitting proofs to clients. Many clients also submit their files to us in PDF format, so that we can get a feel for their requirements. Don’t worry if you’re uncomfortable submitting material to us as a PDF; we are equally happy to convert files from packages such as Word, Publisher and Illustrator.

JPEG – JPEG stands for Joint Photographics Expert Group.  This file format is one of the most popular for saving and sending images. Lots of the photographs that we receive for use in brochures, flyers, newsletters and posters are sent to us as JPEGs.  In technical terms, JPEG is described as a ‘lossy compression technique for colour images’. Lost about the meaning of lossy? It means that the JPEG format loses or compresses some information so that the file is easier to read by the human eye. Don’t be put off by this. Provided your JPEG file is at a decent resolution (see below), it should be more than adequate for print purposes.

EPS – The clever people at Adobe were the driving force for PDFs and they are also proponents of the Encapsulated Postscript or EPS format, which is used for vector-based images in Adobe Illustrator. An EPS file can contain text as well as graphics. This makes the format very popular for saving and sending company logos.

Resolution – No-one wants fuzzy images in their marketing materials. To avoid this, it’s important to get your file resolutions right. Resolution refers to the degree of details that an image holds: the larger the number of pixels (or dots), the better the quality of the image. We recommend a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch) for all images for printing.