In the previous post (add link) we covered the broad categories of image rights. So now you have your image selected for your blog post, and you are ready to make that post pretty. Like most things there are many file types you can use for images – JPEG, PNG, SVG, TIFF, GIF, RAW and the list goes on. What does this alphabet soup of file types stand for?

So before we begin, we want to let you know that this is by no means a comprehensive post on file types. If you are looking for more than a bird’s eye view, the world wide web has plenty of resources.

JPEG sometimes spelled as JPG stand for Joint Photographic Expression Group. If you have smart phone chances are the images you make using it are in this format. JPEG is the most common image file type. Think of it as being the most portable. Portable in the sense that it does not have many pixels compared to the other file types. JPEG uses the lossy compression method. All right, without going into the whole lossy vs. lossless discussion, when you save a JPEG file some of the details in the file are lost thus lossy. The more you make changes, and that includes cropping, the quality of the file diminishes. Also, once you committed the changes to your JPEG file and saved it, you cannot reopen the file go back to its previous version (but I am pretty sure you saved the original version, right?). So when to use JPEG? If you are posting a picture of many colors but you do not need the image to be super big. For that image on your blog post? Use a JPEG file format.

Whether you pronounce GIF as JIF or GIF (with a G), we all love this cutely animated stickers, especially for our messaging apps. GIF (according to its inventor its pronounced JIF) stands for Graphics Interchange Format. GIF is another lossless format (okay, it might be a good idea to write a post on lossy vs. lossless). GIF works best for images that don’t have many colors (unlike that JPEG photo) like cartoons (GIF stickers, anyone?). Use a GIF when working on images that don’t have many colors and is suitable for those images with some simple animation. If your post requires an animated meme, you would be using a GIF file for that image.

When someone says PNG they are not referring to Proctor and Gamble (which often referred to as P&G). PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. PNG uses lossless compression and can have way more colors than either JPEG or GIF. If editing photos are important, you would not want to send a JPEG file. If the file size is not an issue, PNG is ideal to use for images especially those with many colors (think hero). If you do not need a huge size, JPEG will do.

We have two more file types to go through, but I can feel your eyes glazing over. In the next post, we will cover SVG, TIFF, and RAW file formats.

Now, to find that GIF that speaks to me.

Images File Types

JPEG as the most portable format

GIF is for animations

PNG uses loseless compression

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