Image File Formats

Welcome back to those of you who read Image File Formats: Part 1. If you’re a new visitor we welcome you as well and suggest you check out the last installment to get up to speed.

Let’s get this show on the road and get going with the second lesson. There are three image file formats that will be the focus of this article: PDF, AI, and EPS. Each image format has a handful of pros and cons and it is IMPORTANT to keep these in mind when saving an image.


EPS (aka Encapsulated PostScript) is a jack-of-all-trades. It is the most versatile vector that can contain any combination of images, text, or graphics. It can also be converted to raster graphics e.g. JPG, PNG, GIF, etc. EPS files are primarily used for printing graphics such as billboards and banners and thus, are not ideal for the web. This file format can also be used to transfer image data between vector and raster software. In summary, EPS file are great for:
• Printing and sharing designs internally
• Resizing a vector file without loss of image quality
• Creating large graphics e.g. billboards, banners, etc.
• Transferring image data between vector and raster software

Avoid using EPS is you need to:
• Working with photographs or complex graphics
• Upload an image to the web


PDF (aka Portable Document Format) is arguably the most well-known vector image format. Good for both print and digital distribution, you can’t go wrong with this file format. Although PDF is considered a vector format it is also capable of supporting raster images. This file format is the go to option for:
• Downloadable files that can be read on any PDF reader.
• Sending to your client as a preview of what their final design will look like.
• Displaying and sharing pamphlets brochures, magazines, posters, flyers, resumes, etc.

On the other hand, PDFs should be avoided if:
• The design needs to be changed. PDF software is not capable of editing the contents of the document thus; it should only be for the FINAL design.


And then there was one. Next up we have AI. No it doesn’t stand for artificial intelligence, it stands for Adobe Illustrator. Like EPS and PDF, AI is a vector file that can support raster graphics. This file format is very unique and can be considered the universal image format because it can be exported into vector (EPS, PDF, etc.) and raster graphics (GIF, PNG, JPG, etc.). AI is great for the following:
• Creating logos or icons. Every vector shape and line created in Illustrator can be blown up to any size, which makes it ideal for images that need to be used in many different ways.
• Creating promotional materials e.g. flyer, brochures, business cards, posters, etc.
• Editing a design.

Avoid using AI if:
• You need to make changes to an image because AI has a limited number of tools that can manipulate photos.

Final Thoughts

Learn more about image file formats next week with Image File Formats: Part 3. The article will provide an overview of JPG, PNG, and GIF.

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