Demystifying file types

JPG, EPS, PSD, PDF, TIFF: What is the difference between file types, and which one should you use for high quality printing?

There are many different types of file formats, so it can be confusing to know just which one is best for printing.

Typically, JPG files are not suitable as the resolution tends to be too low for printing purposes.  JPG files compress the information in the image which results in a lower quality, more pixelated image. A JPG can’t have a transparent background so they are always in the shape of a rectangle or square with a solid background.  JPGs however are ideal for online use.

PNG files are useful when you require a transparent background, and are generally higher quality than JPGs. PNG is best used for logos, graphs or small images.

TIFF format is generally a safe choice for printing and can be used for transparent backgrounds.  TIFF files are compatible with most photoediting software but can be very large in size.

EPS is also fairly common and is often used for larger jobs such as signs and banners.  It is considered the best choice for high resolution printing.  Another benefit of using EPS files is that they are editable, which is useful if any last minute changes need to be made before printing.  Images that contain text in JPG, PNG or GIF format cannot be edited once they are saved.

If you are using Adobe Illustrator, you may want to save your file in an AI format, however, AI files can only be opened in Illustrator.  The same with PSD files – these are Photoshop specific, and cannot be opened with any other editing software, while EPS files can be created and edited in Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, and can also be opened in Photoshop.

GIF files are best used for websites as they have limited colour capabilities and don’t have gradients or natural shades,  and are smaller files, which cannot be enlarged without quality loss and pixilation.

Sending Word, Excell or PowerPoint files is also not recommended, as formatting can be distorted across platforms and applications, and again, the quality may be compromised.

Providing a print-ready PDF is ideal however, as PDF is an industry standard.  PDFs can be opened on any type of computer, and is easily read by digital imaging software.

At Xtreme, we prefer to receive print jobs in PDF, press quality with fonts outlined.  Not sure how to save your files for optimal quality?  Give us a call at 416-642-1876 or send us an e-mail at  and we will walk you through the process.