There are a number of different file formats for images. They each have strengths and weaknesses, meaning that they are well suited to some tasks and poorly suited to others. Here we will discuss the most popular formats for printing and the most popular formats for digital/online publication.
In order to understand what makes some formats better suited for some tasks than others, you must first understand lossy versus lossless compression. When storing images digitally or using them on a website, you typically want them to be as small as possible to download more quickly when posted online and so that you can store them as efficiently as possible. Some formats, such as JPEG, compress images by "throwing out" some of the data upon saving. This type of lossy compression results in a more convenient file size but can result in a lower quality image, especially when enlarged. Other formats do not compress images, resulting in high-quality images that are often too large to be of practical use, especially for the amateur creator. There are also, however, image formats that allow you to compress images without loss of data.
Most Popular Format for Printing Vectors
Vectors are images that can be resized without compression, making them a good choice for charts, graphs, text, logos, and illustrations. If you want to print a vector, you must first convert it from its original EPS format into a PDF.
Most Popular Format for Printing Photographs
Professional photographers prefer taking photographs in RAW format, but these large files are difficult to deal with. Converting RAW files into a TIFF format allows for lossless compression of high-quality images for printing purposes.
Most Popular Formats for Online Publication
The most common formats you'll find for web images are JPEGs and GIFs. Lossy compression of these formats results in conveniently small-sized files that work well on the web. However, if you require lossless compression for online publication, PNG is the best format available.
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