A Non-Designer’s Design Guide: Simplified File Formats

And we’re back with another post in the series: A Non-Designer’s Design Guide. I know the importance of quality graphic design within a successful business, and I strive to make the communication between business owner and designer as simple as possible. My hope with this series is to equip every business owner to understand terms that are used by graphic designers, and by doing so, aid entrepreneurs in using their logos, marketing collateral, and other branded elements with confidence, while at the same time creating a smooth process when working with a graphic designer.

If you missed the post that kicked off this series + a little more of the backstory, you can pop over and read it here. It’s all about logo types and how to best use them—you won’t want to miss it!

Okay, let’s get started!

The Importance of Understanding File Formats

Using the proper file types and color modes is just as important as being consistent in other areas of your branding (like color and font choice).

But has anyone ever explained in simple terms what each file type is and what it is best used for? Even as a graphic designer I’ve mixed up file formats in the past. However, between my years in design school and working with clients, I’ve done my research and am here to share all the details so that you can feel confident when working with a graphic designer, using your logo files, and saving/sharing business documents!

File Formats: Simplified

.JPG (or JPEG)

I’m sure you’ve run into JPGs before, whether you’ve uploaded images to your website, downloaded an image from an email, or shared a photo from your iPhone. In simple terms, a JPG is an image. In more technical terms, it’s a raster file without a transparent background. JPGs are great to use on the web, typically for photos.


PNGs are similar to JPGs. The main difference being that PNGs do have a transparent background. They are great for the web when transparency is needed (like placing your logo on your website or within a business document). A PNG is defined as a raster file with a transparent background.


An EPS file is a scalable vector with a transparent background. A scalable vector means that it can be scaled up and down without losing quality. Designers will often export and send client logos in this format because it is the best option to use for printed items.


Similar to EPS files, SVG is also a scalable vector with a transparent background. The main difference is that SVG files are preferred for web if the file type is accepted, whereas EPS is best for print.


PDFs are a common file format used within business, but I just wanted to touch on the main features. A PDF is a file format that contains the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, print, or send to someone else. As a graphic designer, I work with PDFs on a daily basis—most often working with clients on their marketing materials (such as magazines, brochures, workbooks, handouts, or PDF opt-ins). PDFs have the capability to contain interactive buttons or hyperlinks, which makes them great for business transactions and daily workflows.

Other Definitions


Raster graphics are made up of pixels (a grid of dots that when put together create images, shapes, and graphics).


Vector graphics are made up of paths (something that has a start and an end point, such as a line, shape, or text).

The main difference between the two: Vector graphics can be scaled up and down without losing quality. A raster graphic, if scaled too high, will look pixelated.

That’s it for Simplified File Formats! If you have questions about these file types or where/when to use each, hit the comment button below!


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