You’re not a designer. All these code words like AI and EPS don’t mean anything to you. You’re pretty excited about your new logo, poster or business cards, but when you open the files you received from the designer, you’re suddenly uneasy. Ummm…how do I use these? Why do I even have five different file types? What’s TIFF? Can’t I just use JPGs for everything?
It’s confusing and unless you have a graphic design background, it’s unlikely that you’d know any of this beforehand. Hopefully I can help make it simple so you actually do utilize all your files in the ways that work best for each situation. It would be a shame if they just sat there!
What kinds of things are you likely to want to do with your files?
You can use them online on your website, facebook, twitter, blogs. You can also print them. Posters, business cards, flyers all are good examples of designs that generally end in a printed format.
You could even send them to another designer. There are many reasons you may need to hand over your files to another designer. For example, you might need to edit information that has become out of date on your business card. Your logo needs a fresh new look, or you made a grievous error and forgot someone’s name. Whatever the case, your designer will need more than a JPG.
What kinds of files do you need for working online?
Websites and social media need things to load fast. No one will wait five minutes for your logo to load in their browsers. They’ll give up before that happens. To make your website a fun and hopefully engaging experience, you should use file types that are quick to load like JPGs, GIFs and PNGs. Beware of sizing them up though because they can’t get bigger without losing resolution. It will end up looking like you used a bad photo that you took with your disposable camera of your favorite celebrity in 1985. I beg you, stay away!
The best thing you can do is to let your designer know where you will be using the files so they can match the sizes for you. If you don’t know, admit it and they can ask you questions to determine your needs.
What about print?
This is where PDFs shine. Quite often I actually go ahead and name this file ‘PRINT’ for my clients so that there is no confusion. I won’t go into too much detail here, but it’s important to know that files for printing and files used online actually look really bad if you mix them up. Anything online uses light from behind which influences how you see the colors displayed. When you look at something you hold in your hand the light source is outside and we see the colors much differently than we do aided by a back light.
What does your designer secretly hope for when you send them your files?
The best file format to send to a designer is EPS. This type of file is high quality, allows for edits, and your designer can open it in multiple programs. Another file that works well for designers is a TIFF file. Again, it’s a high quality file and allows for editing.
The difference between EPS and TIFF file formats is a term called vector. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it simple! A vector file has the ability to be scaled to any size and it will always have beautiful crisp edges and the quality is always the same no matter how big or small it’s scaled to. Vectors are not photographs though, so it’s not always the appropriate format to work in. That’s where TIFF comes in. You can save a very high quality TIFF that can be scaled down, but it’s not able to be scaled higher without losing quality.
You also save a lot of money by sending the best files for the job. If your designer has to do extensive editing or straight-up recreate your file, that’s a major cost. Suddenly an hour’s editing turns into two days.
So in conclusion…
Online: JPG, PNG, GIF
Designer files: EPS, TIFF
Now you know more about the files you have and what will help you work more efficiently with your designer in the future. Always feel free to ask your designer anything you don’t understand. While we don’t expect you to know these things sometimes we forget what is second nature to us can be quite alien to others!
Have fun and let me know if you have any questions. I’d like to continue giving tips and helping with anything you, as a client, struggle with. It just helps everyone to know more!
About the Author
Candee Clark is a graphic designer who loves designing in every form but advertising and packaging are at the top of her list. You can learn more about her on her website, CandeeClark.com.