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File types and outlining text

Posted 23/3/2021

I thought I'd talk a little about file types, as it might help you to understand what files you're receiving either from myself when I send over finished artwork, or if you're not a customer, from your own designer. 

When I send over design files, there are always several different versions of the file, depending on what it is, what it will be used for etc, and I always try to keep my customers informed so that this isn’t overwhelming, but I thought it might be something I could talk about on here too.

I'm going to talk about jpegs, pngs, eps and pdf files. I’m also going to talk about the importance of outlining text, which kind of links into this topic, but might take a little explaining!

Jpeg

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which is the group that created the ‘Jpeg compression standard’, the method of reducing the size of ‘raw’ photographic files from cameras. Jpeg (or jpg) is the file format usually used for images, especially on the internet. Jpegs deliver good quality images with small file sizes. They’re perfect to send via email and to use on websites and social media.

You can save jpeg files at different resolutions; a jpeg saved at 300dpi will be best for print whereas one saved at 72dpi will load more quickly on a page of your website but won’t be sharp if printed. The difference in the dpi, dots per inch, is to do with the number of dots or pixels per square inch of the image (see my post about pixels). The more dots/pixels the image contains, the sharper the image will be. Jpegs are raster images, so the main thing to remember is to never enlarge them, especially for print.

 

Png

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphic format. Png files are often used for web graphics, digital photographs and images with transparent backgrounds. Not all png images have a transparent background as this is an option when saving the file, but those that do are especially useful as watermarks or logos placed over photographs, which is important for businesses to mark photographs of products as their own. A png image is generally a better resolution than a jpeg and will have a larger file size. When I create logos for customers I always include a png with a transparent background incase it’s needed. Pngs are also raster images, so remember not to enlarge them, especially for print.

 

Eps

EPS stands for Encapsulated Postscript and is a file format for vector images. Vector images are fab and can be enlarged, as the way they are created is totally different to raster images. I wrote a blog about vector versus raster images, which could be worth a read if you’d like to find out more. This is the file format I use the most, all of the artwork files I create in Adobe Illustrator for logos, flyers etc are saved as eps files. 

When I send over a logo or design work I explain that the eps file is the artwork file, and whilst you may not be able to open it, it’s important to save it incase you need to pass logos/artwork files on to another designer/web designer/printer etc. So, this is a file that you may have heard of or seen, but it might not be one you can open depending on the programs you have on your PC or Mac.

 

Pdf

PDF stands for ‘Portable Document Format’, it’s a format that can easily be shared and printed as most people have a program that can open it. It is also a file format that can be saved in a way that it can’t easily be modified. 

There are different options when saving pdf files, you can save them as ‘smallest file size’ right up to ‘press quality’ depending on what you’re using the pdf for. Whether it’s a pdf that’ll be stored on a website to be downloaded, or a multi page printed brochure, a pdf file could be used. The advantage of a pdf is that when it is shared electronically it will retain all of its original formatting, so nothing will move or shift lines etc as often happens if you send other file types (such as Word documents).

 

Outlining text

I often work with non-standard fonts from the Adobe Typekit, which is part of my Adobe package. This means that I have a much wider choice of fonts, which is perfect for brand identities, as these need to be individual. Often changing the font can make or break a logo design!

Text in a final design, or artwork file, will be ‘outlined’, which converts the text to a vector image. This means that the text will appear the same when the file is reopened. This is especially important if a non-standard font is used, such as in a logo design, as if the text isn’t outlined and a customer or another designer opens the file, if they don’t have this font, it will open in a default font instead. 

This is also very important for print as it means the document/file won’t change, and will print exactly as you expect it to, regardless of whether the print company has the font your artwork uses. I make it clear that text has been outlined in my files, by including the letters _OL_ in the file name (if any of my customers have wondered what that means!)

I still hold the editable version of the design file (subject to GDPR being agreed) incase changes need to be made in the future. If I only saved the version with the outlined text, any future changes would need to be retyped, rather than just edited. At the moment I am holding on to files indefinitely, so that customers can return to me for changes, or if a file is lost or corrupted, I will have the original file still. Eventually I might have to limit this to a certain number of years, but for now I keep hold of every design job.

Text can be outlined in eps file and also in pdf files, which is useful to know, and definitely something you should ask for if you’re receiving files from a designer. Often I am sent logo files to be used on something else, such as a phonecase, and I have to go back to the sender to ask for an outlined version before I can use it. The pdf itself will appear fine, and I can open it as a pdf in Acrobat, for example, but if I want to use the logo in a design program I’m unable to if the font isn’t one I have, unless it’s been outlined.

I hope thais makes sense, it’s quite a complicated thing to explain, but something I’m seeing more of lately, potentially due to people creating their own logos or perhaps using less qualified/non-qualified designers who maybe don’t see this potential issue at the time of creating the design.

 

I hope this helps! As always, if you have any questions please feel free to send me an email at info@stephbuncherdesign.co.uk

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