Understanding Logo File Formats
OK, so your logo designer has sent over your final (digital) logo files (note the plural – you should be getting more than one file format) and there’s a bunch of them that you can’t open up or view. Whatever you do, don’t throw them away!
First, file them in a place where you know you’ll be able to find them later. Second, back them up some place else.
Basic Formats You’ll Want:
The right file format for the job
Some file formats are for print, some are for screen media (the web, powerpoint, etc.). For the best visual quality, you’ll need the right file format.
An .ai file (Adobe Illustrator) or Illustrator .eps file is the first file format you’ll want. You’ll need this for your business cards, letterhead, print advertising and marketing materials, etc. These are vector file formats, which means it’s fully scaleable.
Not all .eps files are created equal
You can create .eps files in both Photoshop and Illustrator, but only Illustrator (vector) files in which the art is outlined may be scaled up. Scaling up a Photoshop .eps file will mean a loss of print quality. (Either may be scaled down with no loss of quality.)
Both .ai and .eps files may be imported into design programs like InDesign & Quark. .eps files can also be imported into Word docs with varying results.
.tif files may also be used for print, much as a Photoshop .eps file is used. .tif files are not vector-based and will lose quality if scaled up.
On the web, use a .gif if your logo uses a lot of flat color; use a .jpg if your logo has gradients or shading of some kind, or lots of color. Use a .png (with a clear background) if you need your logo needs to overlay a background image.
The web, however, is less fussy than print, so if you only have a jpg, even though a .gif file might be more appropriate, go ahead and use it.
Signage – your sign-maker will want a vector-based file for creating signage. Send him your .ai or Illustrator .eps file.
Banners – vinyl-cut banners also require vector-based files; for printed banners .ai or .eps files are recommended, but other file formats may also be used presuming they are high enough resolution.
Powerpoint – Use a .gif, .jpg, or .png file. Experiment to see what works best with your particular logo.
Word – .png files seem to cross platform the best, but you may find that an .eps file prints better. Make sure your .png file is high enough resolution, at least 200 dpi at full size.
Tee shirts – When silkscreening, you’ll want vector-based files (.ai or .eps); for digital printing on shirts (like those found at Café Press) you may need a .png or .jpg file, typically at least 200 dpi at full size.
Hopefully your file formats will be delivered in the appropriate resolution. 300 dpi (at actual size) is recommended for offset printing. Digital printing may only require 200 dpi, although 300 dpi is better. Images for the web and other screen media should be 72 dpi.
Melissa Shimmin is an award-winning designer who has been helping companies both big and small create, evolve and strengthen their identities, branding and marketing collateral for more than 15 years. And yet, Melissa is more than just a designer: she takes a big picture perspective, combining marketing strategy and copywriting with design to create stronger, more impactful branding and identity for the companies she partners with. Check out her work at Shimmin Design. Tags: California, identity design, logo