What the File?!?


Do you ever find yourself suddenly sidelined at work, frustrated, looking for the proper file types of your logo? Are pesky designers hassling you for larger files, “native files” or “vector files”? If you are like most people the answer is a resounding “ugh, yes”. Frustration, be gone! This quick little read will help you sort out what file types you should be storing and when to use which type of file.

As a designer, I provide my clients with a suite of files which I highly recommend keeping packaged neatly together in a safe place on a cloud. Heck, go ahead and save them to a jump drive as well. Then, copy them over to another working folder for your everyday use. The following are the file types I recommend you keep on hand as well as information about when best to use them:

  • (AI) AI Files are native Adobe Illustrator files. Meaning, these are the primary design files in which your designer has created your artwork. There are probably some designers that create art in other programs, but I certainly don’t know any. (And I’m not sure you should hire one.)  Illustrator is the gold standard. You probably won’t need to use these files very often, but they are critical if you ever which to update or evolve your artwork. Keep them safe and treat them with care.

  • (EPS) EPS files are a type of vector file. Simply put, this means the file can be increased to any size without losing resolution (it won’t become fuzzy). Additionally, these files print with a transparent background (you won’t have a white box around your file). Designers and printers love EPS files. If you are working on a printed design, this is the best file to provide. Note, if you don’t have Illustrator on your computer, you won’t be able to view these files, so just make sure to check them when proofing your designs before printing.

  • (PDF) I’m going to go ahead and bet you are comfortably familiar with PDF files. These are great for sharing artwork for review and, if they are large enough, they can be used in printing too. However, they don’t print with a transparent background, so they will likely need to be used on a white background.

  • (JPG) JPG files are image files and most commonly associated with pictures. When posting photographs on websites, you’ll want to upload JPG files. JPGs also work well for posting photographs to social media. However, be careful, they don’t work quite as well when trying to post graphics on social media. Graphic JPGs will post fuzzy on social media. Use PNG files instead.

  • (PNG) PNG files are small, web-ready, files and are great for uploading artwork to websites. Additionally, unlike JPG files, they have a transparent background and they work great on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. If a designer has given you a really large PNG file, you might be able to get away with printing them at a small size. However, I don’t see this very often, I most often receive very small PNG files that clients are hoping to use in print situations. They simply won’t work … this is when the designers most often get pesky - asking you for alternative files.

  • (GIF) GIF files are similar to PNG files in that hey are small, web-ready, files. Many times, they also come with animation. They are most suitable for sharp art with a limited number of colors. I recommend using a GIF for your logo upload to a website.