Do you look sharp? File formats explained.

By Wendy Rall   Volume 2, Article 3

When advertising your business both online or in print, do your images look sharp? Your images are a representation of you, not just your business. In this competitive, rapidly growing cannabis industry, you better be looking sharp!

When talking to your designer, do you feel lost in a fog of file formats? It can be so confusing, there are so many acronyms to understand. It is important that you understand. You need to send the correct file format to the company posting or printing your material. So let’s delve right into it!

Your logo, ads, business cards, brochures, web content and more, will all at some time, need to be sent to a printer, social media rep., silk-screener, programmer, display house, etc. Each of these companies require a different type of file format, one that works best with their specific space. And when posting online, some images work well in one format, when another image having different properties (more text for example) will be best read online when saved in a different file format. Color modes also play a great part, so not only do you need the right file format, you need it on the correct color mode for you usage.

Understanding color modes is simple. Basically you need to know the difference between RGB and CMYK. These are your two most basic color modes, however others exist.

RGB: Red, Green, Blue

CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black

CMYK is the color mode your file should be when printing professionally for both digital and offset printing. All “four color process” print colors are made out of combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow an black. RGB is the mode used for digital usage, such as your posts on social media. 

When preparing an ad for usage on the web, social media ad posts for example, you would upload either a JPG or a PNG depending on the overall content of the image. If the image is photographic and does not contain any text, you would use the JPG format, however if the image contains a significant amount of text, a logo or graphic images, you will get a better result with a PNG file.

JPG: best for photos, little text

(Joint Photographic Experts Group)

PNG: best for images containing text, graphics and logos

(Portable Network Graphics)

An EPS file will be required when you are working with a company who will be cutting vinyl for lettering on your trucks or windows, or silk screening your shirts or signage. An eps is a vector file and provides the “track” for the cutting blades in a vinyl cutting machine. When silk screening, an eps contains a hard edge (that a raster image could never give you), to create a sharp edge on the image burnt into the screen, resulting in the highest quality image, for these printing processes. You also will provide an EPS file to the company printing your banners or trade show displays, anything large format. EPS vector files scale up without loosing quality.

EPS: specialty printing: large formats, silk screening, vinyl lettering

(Encapsulated Post Script)

And the format most well know to business owners is the PDF. The PDF is a file exported from another program such as Adobe InDesign or any professional design programas well as Microsoft products. When creating a PDF document, there are several options in quality and specifications for a wide range of usages. You may export at “press quality” with “printers marks” when preparing for offset printing, this will be a very high quality image and a larger file weight than if you export on a setting called “smallest file size” which is good for proofing. A PDF can also be opened with vector design programs, and edited; in that way they are similar to an EPS file.

PDF:  created to present and exchange documents reliably, independent of software, hardware, or operating system

(Portable Document File)

Lastly we have the TIFF. This format is a raster file similar to a JPG, however it saves with more detail resulting in a better image quality. Each TIFF must be saved specifically for either MAC or PC platform, and are not interchangeable as is a JPG. TIFFs are most widely used with professionals in the design and print industry working on Mac platform.

TIFF: High quality printing

(Tagged Image File Format)

There are numerous additional file formats in use, the above are the basics that I feel every new business owner shouldbe acquainted with as you begin your journey and begin to create your brand image. Go for it!

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