What file format should my logo be in?

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Logos are beautiful, logos are unique, but getting your logo in the proper format for several different uses can seem mind-boggling.  Here’s a brief primer on the two primary file format types for logos:

Raster

Raster images are by far the most common. They are made up of rows of pixels, similar to a mosaic. You can’t usually tell they are individual pieces until you enlarge the image.

  • What’s good:
    • This is the only way to save photo-type images.
    • They work great for web sites, email insertion, and images.
  • What’s bad:
    • They don’t scale well. When increasing their size, the quality decreases and look “pixelated”.
    • They can appear fuzzy and/or grainy when used with printed materials.
  • Resolution: when using raster images, choosing the proper resolution is very important.  Resolution is generally regarded as the number of pixels (dots) per square inch.
    • 72 dpi (dots per inch) is a good resolution for images on web sites
    • 300 dpi is a good resolution for images used on printed materials
  • Common file formats:
    • .jpg
    • .gif
    • .png
    • .psd
    • .tif
    • .bmp

km_rastervector

Vector.  Vector images are made up of a series mathematical formulas consisting of points and lines. The smooth lines make vector images extremely flexible to work with.

  • What’s good:
    • They are scalable from very small (business card) to very large (signs & banners).
    • They reproduce crisp and clear on printed materials.
    • There is no need to worry about the image resolution.
  • What’s bad:
    • Many people don’t have vector versions of their logo
    • The file sizes can be large
  • Resolution: vector files are not subject to low or high resolution. Due to the nature of how vector images are created, they are always the same whether displayed small or large.
  • Common file formats (these formats do not guarantee the file was originally created as vector art):
    • .ai
    • .eps
    • .pdf
    • .cdr


If you have a logo only in raster format it can be recreated in vector format to allow for more flexible use and better print production.

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