What are those designers talking about?

Every industry has a language of their own and this stands true in the world of graphic design.  The file types, color designations and other lingo can confuse your clients and other marketers that are not designers.

With this in mind, I have created a “cheat sheet”  that I share with my clients when turning over a new brand.  I have included it below and if you would like a pdf, send me an email and I will get it to you!  mandi@dryinkdesigns.com

File Types, Font Usage, Graphic Terms and Color Specifications


AI Adobe Illustrator  AI files are vector files used by designers and commercial printers to generate files of different formats and sizes. AI files can only be opened using Adobe Illustrator and is one of the most preferred formats by printers, promotional product companies, banner and sign companies, and other third party creatives.

EPS Encapsulated Postscripts  EPS files are most commonly used by designers to transfer an image or artwork, generally a vector file into another application. Vector-based EPS files are scalable to any size and can be opened using Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, or Adobe Photoshop. A vector EPS file is also preferred formats by printers, promotional product companies, banner and sign companies, and other third party creatives.

JPG Joint Photographic Experts Group  A JPG or JPEG file is a compressed image file that does not support a transparent background. These files can vary in resolution –  high quality for desktop printing, medium quality for web viewing and low quality for email.

PDF Portable Document Format  A PDF is a universal file format that preserves/embeds the fonts, images, layout and graphics of any source document, regardless of the application used create it. PDF files can be shared, viewed and printed by anyone with the free Adobe Reader software. Some PDF files can be used for commercial, digital, and/or desktop printing.

PNG Portable Network Graphics  The PNG file format is most commonly used for use online and on websites due to their low resolution. PNG files are bitmap images that employ lossless data compression and can be created with a transparent background.

PSD Photoshop Document  The PSD file format, usually a raster format, contains graphics and photos created in Adobe Photoshop image editing software. Most commonly used by designer and printers. PSD file can only be opened using Photoshop and may be created in layers.

TIF Tagged Image File Format  The TIF or TIFF file format is most commonly used for storing images, photography, or art. TIF files are most commonly used in professional environments and commercial printing. The TIF format is the most widely supported format across all platforms. It is the standard format for high quality images. Though large in size, TIF formats are considered to be the most reliable format for high quality images.


WEB Which files do I use for Web?  JPG, PNG, GIF
When you are using your logo for an on-screen application you should use a jpg, png or gif.  I typically no longer suggest to use a GIF file as the PNG file was created to replace this file. Web files should be saved at 72 dpi allowing for faster load time.

PRINT Which files do I use for Print?  JPG, TIF, PDF
When printing you want to make sure that your resolution is at least 150 dpi (300 dpi is preferred).  If it is anything under this, you will have that pixelated look that no one likes.

VENDORS Which files do I send a Vendor?  EPS, AI, PDF
Typically print and promotional vendors will ask you for an EPS or PDF files which are both Vector files.  Vector files allow designers to stretch or shrink your logo/file without manipulating your logo or decreasing its resolution.


BLEED Ink that bleeds to the edge of your paper.  A printer will not print to the edge of your paper, so when you want the ink or your design to go to the edge of your paper, you must design the artwork larger than the size of your finished product, print on a larger piece of paper and trim the page down to the desired size.  This is an extra charge when using a printer so keep that in mind when budgeting your next project.

CROP MARKS  This is a measurement of individual dots that can be placed on a line in the span of an inch.

DPI Dots Per Inch  This is a measurement of individual dots that can be placed on a line in the span of an inch.  The higher the number, the more dots in that inch and the higher the quality.  Typical for website design is 72 dpi.  Viewing an image on a screen does not take the quality that a printed piece requires.  Typical for print is 300 – 600 dpi.

VECTOR Vector Graphics – typical for logo design.  Vectors graphics are based on images made up of vectors (also called paths, or strokes) which lead through locations called control points.  This allows for a logo or other vector image to be stretched or shrinked to any size possible and keep the same size ratio and resolution.  Fonts can be outlined or created into vector artwork so it is not distorted in anyway.  A photograph will never be a vector graphic.


CMYK This is a 4 color or process color model – typical for print.  CMYK is a designation of percentages of the inks used to create a specific color.  C (Cyan) M (Magenta) Y (Yellow) K (Key or Black).  I provide the CMYK designations for all clients as they
be used in certain programs to insure the correct color is being used in their marketing

RGB 3 color process color model – typical for on-screen.  The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light is added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors.   This is typically seen in television, powerpoint and website applications.

PANTONE Pantone or PMS color model – typical for designers and printers.  Often times a company will designate a Pantone Color or PMS (Pantone Matching System) Color for their brand.  This is a very specific color and is a spot color instead of a process color like the CMYK and RGB models listed above.  Each Pantone color has a CMYK, RGB and HEX designation so it can be used correctly in multiple programs.

HEX Web Color – typical for web designers and developers.  The Hex color or hexadecimal color is a hex triplet or six-digit, three-byte number used in HTML, CSS, SVG, and other computing applications, to represent colors.  Every HEX number begins with a # (number or hashtag sign) and has 6 digits composed of numbers and letters to designate the specific PMS color.


About dryinkdesigns

A marketing and business development background is the foundation for Mandi Boedicker’s passion for creating memorable branding support for a number of clients. Initially a graphic designer by trade, Boedicker’s marketing experience in the construction industry sparked a passion for networking and community partnerships. Dry Ink Designs was a natural next step. Boedicker’s freelance client work had spanned over ten years already while maintaining a full-time career, so she turned her creative energy into a career that benefitted the relationships she was building. Strengths in calligraphy, painting and photography soon grew into strengths in corporate identity strategy and marketing/communications support.
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2 Responses to What are those designers talking about?

  1. Pingback: what’s color got to do with it | dry ink designs

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