Image File Types You Need To Know - When To Use Them & Why

Have you ever wondered what the letters behind a saved photo mean?  Or struggle to pick the format when saving a picture?  I understand, it can be confusing.  You may see a picture ending .JPEG and another time be AI and the next EPS.  These are all different image file types.

Using the correct image file type is essential in preserving your images quality.

Image File Types You Need To Know - When To Use Them & Why - Nakia Jones Creative BY NAKIA JONES

There are two main types of image files.  They are raster and vector.  Raster and vector are comprised completely differently and used for separate things.  It is important to know the difference in order to get the highest quality of you image.


Raster images are made up of a bitmap.  A bitmap is up to millions of pixels, which are tiny squares of color that collectively make up the image.  This format is most often used for photographs.

The most popular types of raster images are: jpg, png, gif, psd, raw, and tiff.


Because of the pixels it is easy to edit even the smallest detail in an image.  Also, raster files with a higher resolution can be really high quality and detail oriented.


These images can be blurry when enlarged because it is made up of pixels.  Also, raster images tend to have large file sizes because for high quality they can be made up of millions or more of pixels.

Raster Types

.JPG – Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPG images are used for high quality photos to be used online.  These are not good for printed work and cannot have a transparent background.  They are, also, known as JPEG.  Best used for photos such as portraits or product shots.

.PNG – Portable Network Graphics

PNG images are similar to jpg however they can be compressed and it does not affect the quality.  These images are meant for online use and support transparent background.  Best used for infographics, pictures with texts, and higher quality photos.

.GIF – Graphics Interchange Format

GIF images are the lower quality version of JPG.  GIFs are used online and are most widely known for being moving image clips.

.PSD – Adobe Photoshop

PSD are images created in Adobe Photoshop.  They can, also, be vector but are most often raster.


These are images straight out of the camera that have not been edited in any way.  These are usually converted to another type of file format.

.TIFF – Tagged Image File Format

TIFF images are used for photography and maintain quality when printed.


Vector images use mathematics to comprise the image and make up the shapes and graphics.  These images are made up of paths, which are start and end point, that can curve and angle to make a shape.


The main benefit of vector files is they can be scaled as biggest as you want and still maintain its integrity.  Vector files, also, are not resolution dependent.

The most popular types of raster images are: eps, pdf, and ai.


Vector file are harder to edit small details and not best used for photographs.

Vector Types

.EPS – Encapsulated Postscript File

EPS are files that are editable in both Illustrator and Photoshop.  They can be resized but not edited.  Best used for printing.

.PDF – Portable Document Format

PDF are most often used for sharing documents however they are great for images as well.  PDFs can be viewed on multiple platforms and maintain a high quality.  These can be used in printing or online but are most often used for sharing documents between people.

.AI – Adobe Illustrator

AI are images created in Adobe Illustrator that are layered vector images.

I hope this little article helps you when deciding what image file format to choose!  Let me know if you have any questions!

The Bloom Theory by Nakia Jones

Do you currently use the right image file types?  If not how has it affected your pictures and their quality?