File formats: JPEG, PNG, PDF — What’s the difference?

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So, you’ve just created your masterpiece in GoDaddy Studio and now you want to export it. But what file format should you use? Knowing the basics about image file formats is super helpful for getting the most out of your designs.

The short story:

  • Designing something for the web? Use JPEG. 
  • Need a transparent logo or icon? Use PNG. 
  • Printing your design? Use PDF.   

Need more than that? Read on.

Breaking down file formats

There is more to each file format than simply where you are using it. To get a better understanding, let’s look at each format individually.

PNG

PNGs can be partly transparent. Sounds strange for an image, right?

This is used for stand-alone web graphics, like an icon or a logo, and you want to layer this onto another asset.

When you export your image as a PNG file, the space around your graphic will remain transparent so that you can place it seamlessly into a sales ad or email signature, for example.

Perhaps you’ve seen a gray and white checkerboard behind an image search results — that indicates that it has a transparent background.

JPEG

Two for one drink special poster created in GoDaddy Studio

This file format is ideal for the web.

Social content, email, blog or banner — if it’s going online then it’s a safe bet to save it as a JPEG.

The reason being that these JPEG files can be compressed to a small size for a quick share or download. Some of the image quality might get lost in the compression, but for web images this is usually OK.

PDF

Time to print? This is where the PDF file format shines.

Most printers will ask for you to send your design as a PDF file as it is a universal standard.

This is because PDFs are the safest bet for keeping all your design components intact and avoiding any unwelcome surprises when transposing your design from a digital file to a tangible object.

Formatting can change between programs and computers, so you want to be sure you’re using a PDF to keep everything the same.

What about other file formats?

 

You’ve probably seen other file formats like PSD (Photoshop), AI (Adobe Illustrator), TIFF (tagged image file format) and many more. But, PNG, JPG and PDF are the three you’re most likely to run into and the most important you need to know for creating images and designs for your small business.