File Format Breakdown

By Emily Spirek on August 4, 2008

By Emily Spirek on August 4, 2008

File formats are essential when it comes to compatibility and storing images. We all have heard of a .jpg, but what exactly is it? Below, I will give a simple definition of the common file formats used for images.

  1. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – most commonly used with photographs and its small image size is extremely helpful for emailing or website purposes. It uses lossy compression which means some quality is lost, and it shouldn’t be used for archiving purposes.
  2. TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) – this is the most standard and universal format for high quality images. It uses lossless compression, meaning no quality is lost in the image or it’s fully recoverable. The trade-off is the increased file size.
  3. PNG (Portable Network Graphics) – we use this format when designing websites in Fireworks because it is specifically for the internet (only supports RGB colors). It uses lossless data compression, like the TIFF, so it doesn’t lose quality.
  4. GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) – According to the creators, the correct pronunciation is “jiff”. It is a compressed format (limited to 256 colors per frame vs. 1,000,000), supports animations and widely used on the web.

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