Logo Design File Formats

Logo Design File Formats

This post is aimed toward non-designers so as to explain how to use the files they receive for a design project. There is a multitude of different logo design file formats, each with it’s own specific purpose – knowing what to use and when to use it is very important to obtain the best results.

The first thing to note is that there are two types of logo design file formats: Vector and Raster (or Pixel).

Vector Files

 

All logo designers should create vector-based designs so be wary of any designer who says they use Photoshop (which is primarily pixel, not vector). These files are mathematically interpreted within the software as a collection of coordinates, lines, shapes and indexed colours. What this means is that they can be reproduced at almost any scale without problems, such as blurring or distortion. Basically, the same file can be used when printing on a letterhead as printing on a billboard.

All files listed below are compatible on both mac and windows.

 

Logo Design File Formats Icon.AI  -  Adobe Illustrator

This is the original, editable, working file in which the logo was created. It does require specific software to open and edit, so it may be easier speaking to your designer before splashing out on expensive tools that take a long time to learn. Usually, text within these files is editable (unless is custom type which will instead be outlined) as long as you have the correct font installed.

Opens with: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW
When / where to use it:  editing the original master logo

 

Logo Design File Formats Icon.EPS  -  Encapsulated PostScript

Professional printers often request EPS files as they can be scaled to any size without issue. One of the advantages of EPS as a file format is the capability of including both pixel / vector data and artwork. EPS files are ideally the ‘final file’ since editing is difficult – unlike the .AI working file.

Opens with: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW
When / where to use it:  expert printing, scaled printing

 

Logo Design File Formats Icon.PDF  -  Portable Document Format

I personally prefer PDF to EPS as the latter can be embedded, allowing a printer to extract the EPS if required. It is a very flexible format which can accurately display and preserve fonts, page layouts, and both vector and bitmap graphics.

Opens with: Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader, Preview
When / where to use it: printing, viewing

 

Raster Files

 

Raster images, a.k.a. Pixel or Bitmap, are resolution dependent and built from rows of small squares (or dots) of varying colour. The more squares you have per set area the higher the resolution of the image – generally images on the web are 72dpi (dots per inch) whilst print-quality imagery comes in around 240-300dpi.

Once the resolution is set only resampling the image will create a larger image, stretching or distorting will result in blurriness and generally a lower image quality. It is primarily for this reason that logo design should be vector based.

 

Logo Design File Formats Icon PNG.PNG  -  Portable Network Graphics

PNG is an excellent format for graphics because it can compress the file without much distortion. It also allows for transparency, so the logo can be applied onto a document or backdrop without a background colour that requires erasing. It was created to be an improvement upon the older GIF files, which was limited to 256 colours – so I don’t feel the need to offer GIF unless specifically asked for.

Opens with: Photoshop for editing, most image viewers
When / where to use it:  web graphics, printing (at 300dpi)

 

Logo Design File Formats Icon JPEG.JPG / .JPEG  -  Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPEG’s are the most common image format you will find on the web. They are compressed so they load quickly on websites, but can be saved at a high enough quality to be nearly indistinguishable from their vector counterpart. I tend to save JPEG’s and PNG’s at a larger scale because down-sampling invokes less distortion than upscaling. They are however “lossy” which means information is lost every time you compress/uncompress.

Opens with: Photoshop for editing, most image viewers
When / where to use it:  web graphics, printing (at 300dpi)

 

TIFF Logo Design File Formats Icon.TIFF  -  Tagged Image File Format

TIFF files are like the bigger brother of JPEG. They are slightly higher in quality, but not vector based. Unlike JPEG’s, they are uncompressed (lossless) and therefore tend to be quite a bit larger in filesize.

Opens with: Photoshop for editing, most image viewers
When / where to use it:  archiving, printing (at 300dpi)

 

Anything else?

 

Alternative versions of the logo, such as one-colour or black & white, can be used when presentation of said logo differs from the primary colour. If, for example, a photographer wanted to use their logo as a watermark, the colour version would be too distracting. In cases like that I will save a 10% opacity (10% Key)  and 50% grey versions so they can see what looks best.

These are the general file formats I default to when saving out final files. If you have any specific requests regarding file formats then let me know and I’ll be happy to help out. If you are confident with software such as Illustrator or CorelDRAW then it’s as easy as opening the .AI then clicking File -> Export.  -> Save as…

 

 

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