Understanding File Formats

When you order a new logo from The Logo Company, we provide you with your design in a variety of file formats. We want you to have maximum flexibility in terms of how and where to use your new logo.


One thing that we hear from clients frequently is that they’re not sure which formats are applicable in certain situations. Which format is best for printing? What should you do if you need to email your logo design? Each situation has a file format that is ideal.

With that in mind, this post will provide you with a guide to help you understand the benefits of some of the most common formats and how you can use them.


Vectors vs. Rasters

The first topic we need to address is the difference between a vector and a raster. These are terms you may hear from printing companies and web designers. It’s not uncommon for people who have had limited exposure to graphic design to be unfamiliar with these terms.


What is a Vector File Format?

Let’s start with vectors. A vector graphic is made of paths, or lines. The paths may be either straight or curved.


Different colors displayed in a broken circle to show how important it is to understand different file formats


If you look at the data file for a vector graphic, it includes the points where each path starts and ends, the curve of each path, and the colors that fill or border the paths that make up the image.


The use of lines instead of pixels – something we’ll talk more about in a moment – means that a vector image may be easily resized without having to worry that the image will become distorted in the process.


What is a Raster File Format

Raster graphics, by contrast, are made up of dots called pixels. They are sometimes also referred to as bitmap images.


Unlike vector graphics, raster graphics depend on resolution. If you try to enlarge a raster graphic, you may end up getting that blocky, pixelated look.


Raster graphics have their place, but for logo design, most people prefer vector graphics.


Why are Vectors File Formats Preferable to Rasters in Logo Design?

Most logo designer prefer vector graphics to rasters because of the ease with which they can be resized. Vectors are very useful for companies that need to use logos on small items such as business cards as well as on large items like company vehicles.


However, the reason that vectors do not depend on resolution is that vector files specify the relationship between the lines that make up the image. For example, the relationship remains the same, which means that enlarging the image will always keep it in the correct aspect ratio to look good.


Your Company written in a colorful Fontana two business cards underneath. Different file formats

By contrast, raster files are made of a certain number of pixels, which is why they always specific a number of pixels. The bigger the image gets, the farther apart the pixels are – and the less crisp the image becomes.


That doesn’t mean that raster files are useless. More so, there are situations when you might want a raster file. Let’s talk about some of the most common file formats and when you might use them.


Vector File Formats

Understandably, vector images are available in two primary formats. The first is the PDF, which you may be familiar with already. The second, the SVG file, is less well known.


PDF Files and When to Use Them

First, let’s talk about PDF files. You are probably already familiar with PDFs, which are essential an electronic “printed” document file that duplicates print formatting.


Furthermore, PDFs were invented by the software company Adobe. Their original purpose was to capture rich, formatted information in any application. Creating PDF documents and image files allows for easy sharing of images between, say, PC and MAC users.


What makes PDF files useful is that you can view them without design editing software, provided that you have the free Acrobat Reader software on your computer. And if you have the full Adobe software, you or your designer can easily make changes to the file.


In other words, PDF files make sharing graphics easy and inexpensive.


SVG File Formats and When to Use Them

Now let’s talk about SVG files. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. While not as well-known as the PDF file, there are some significant benefits to using SVG files.


SVG files are rendered in XML text files, which means they can be edited with any text editing software, as well as with design software.


However, unlike PDF files, SVG files may also be used for animation. If you think you might want to experiment with an animated version of your logo, then an SVG file will let you do it.


More so, SVG files can be opened with any browser. In the world of logo design. SVG files are often preferred for creating logo-based icons for websites. You can easily use CSS and a text editor to change any part of your logo, including the background color and other elements.


More ore importantly, the only potential downside of SVG files is that they can be large, but the key is to know when and how to use them.


Raster File Formats

While raster files are not as versatile as vector files in some ways, there are still some benefits to use them. Here, we’ll run down two of the most common types of raster files: PNG files and JPEG files.


PNG Files and When to Use Them

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, and it’s one of the most commonly used types of raster files.

Furthermore, it supports lossless data compression, and is considered to be an improved replacement for the GIF file.

Pixel colors. From white to the darkest blue colors in squares


Unlike some other file types, PNG images may be compressed without losing any quality in the compressed images. They are most commonly used for storing graphics that have text graphics, sharp edges, and graphic elements.


Furthermore, the ability to compress files without losing quality is one reason that PNG files are popular in logo design. Many of the logos we design include multiple graphic elements combined with text.


Many of our designers prefer PNG files as a way of storing their work in progress. After all, it can be helpful to compress and store files in the intermediate editing stages because they can be sure that the quality of their work will not be affected.


For our clients, PNG images provide a reasonably high-quality non-vector option if they need it. It supports palette-based images and grayscale images.


Because PNG files were designed for transferring images on the internet, they are not ideal for print graphics. The resolution is not sufficiently high to translate for printing, but they are useful for certain web applications.


JPEG File Formats and When to Use Them

Now, let’s talk about JPEG files. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the organization that first created the files.


Like PNG files, JPEG files offer a way to compress graphic images for storage. In fact, with a JPEG you can achieve as much as 10:1 compression with minimal loss of quality.


JPEGs are popular for storing photographs and other large files, and for transmitting them over the internet. However, there is a quality issue to be aware of.


While JPEGs preserve quality up to a point, they are not as good at doing as PNG files are. For instance, you have the ability to specify how small you want a JPEG file to be. You do need to be aware, though, that compressing the files too far will result in a loss of quality.


For that reason, the primary use for a JPEG file is to store files in a small space, and to send them (if print quality is not a concern) via email.


However, we don’t recommend JPEG files for printing, but they are useful if you have limited storage space or need to store multiple versions of your logo.


The Advantages of Multiple File Formats

We understand that our clients may not know every possible use they might have for their logo in the future. That’s why we provide them with their logo design, once approved, in multiple file formats.


Every clients gets their design in a variety of standard formats, which we have listed on our website. In addition to the formats listed, you can get your logo design in additional formats on request.


We want you to be able to use your logo wherever you need to use it. If you have questions about file formats, all you need to do is ask us and we’ll be happy to help.


Conclusion In Understanding File Formats

So, different situations require different file formats. While on the whole, vector files are more reliable and have higher quality than raster files, certain raster formats – such as those listed here – have their uses.


The primary difference – and the key thing to remember – is that you should always choose a vector file for printing. Because of their high quality and consistency, using a vector file will ensure that every time you print your logo. Whether it’s a tiny version of a business card or on a wrap large enough to cover a moving van, will be crisp, clear, and professional looking.

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