Photoshop file formats: Making the right choice

File formatsIt is important to understand which file format to use when saving work for any given task. Certain formats may deliver a file that is too large to email or use on a website. Other format may cause an image to become lossy and loose vital definition required for high-res printing.

Below is a list of the most commonly used file formats with descriptions, pro’s and con’s.

Photoshop *.psd Photoshop format – native file format. Will save separate layers and layer styles. Will preserve editable text and vector graphics. Does not have compress. This will result in large file sizes. Not always excepted by other software applications. Not usable for web-design.
Jpeg *.jpg Joint Photographic Experts Group format is commonly used for saving photographic images for the web and email. Will compress files down to a fraction of the original size. 16 million colours available. Adjustable compression rate for image optimization. A poor choice for graphical images. If too much compression is applied when saving, an image will become damaged with artifacts and quality reduced.
GIF *.gif A format commonly used for the internet, email and multimedia to display graphical information. Can facilitate transparency information. Reduce file sizes due to selectable colour palettes based around run-length encoding (based on LZW compression). Great choice for graphics, line-art and text. Poor quality on photographic images due to limited palette of up to 256 colours available.
PNG (24 bit) *.png A format commonly used for the internet, email and multimedia to display graphical information. Can facilitate transparency information as well as varying levels of opacity. Great choice for website design. Files size tends to be a lot higher than jpeg or gif.
TIFF *.tif Tagged-Image File Format is supported by virtually all DTP and paint/image editor applications. The format is commonly used by the graphic design and photographic industries. Will protect image quality. Preserves layers, annotations, transparencies and alpha channels. Preserves 16 million colours. Also can be saved with loss-less LZW compression to reduce file sizes. Large file size. Not usable for web-design.
Photoshop EPS *.eps Encapsulated Post-Script format is commonly used by the design industrial for graphics designated for print. Will retain both vector and pixels based image information. Preserves 16 million colours. JPEG compression (optional). Will not preserve clipping path information. Lossy with Jpeg compression. Not usable for web-design.
PDF *.pdf Portable Document Format is cross platform and widely excepted by the print industry. Readable using Adobe Acrobat Reader (free). Embeds editable text, vector graphics and pixel-based images. Will encapsulate fonts for safe cross-platform reliability. Can incorporate Jpeg compression for pixels based elements. Can be used on the web but require some know to setup correctly.

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