Design Help Center

Practical technical advice from design professionals.

A series of Design Help tips, suggestions & practical advice assembled by designers in our studio. For more recent help features check out the Design Tutorials category on our blog.

Files & Formats

Reference guide to files you need to manage your logo

Whenever you hire anyone to create your logo, you’ll end up – or should end up – with some (or all) of these files and image types. This quick reference guide illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of each. While there are exceptions to every design ‘rule’, this guide will serve as a fairly comprehensive outline of format uses for your new company logo. Note – the file extensions listed assume that files have been correctly named.

Full-color vector based

Full Color VectorFile extensions:

.ai .eps .svg

If your logo was created in full color CMYK, you will require four color process printing to use it on any color material. If you need to enlarge your logo it will not be a concern as vector based images boast unlimited resolution. While you might pay a premium for your marketing material, you should have no file format concerns.

Preferred for: Traditional printing – business cards, letterheads, brochure design and color advertising.
Can be used for: Digital plotter (signage), file conversion (to pixel based images,) scaling, silk screen, inclusion in Flash animation.
Not applicable for: Web, black & white reproduction.

Full-color pixel based (also known as a bitmap or raster)

Full Color Bitmap VersionFile extensions:

.gif .jpg .tif .ps .png

This isn’t such a good scenario. You’ll still need 4 color process printing for any traditional stationery design material (such as business card and letterhead,) but you’ll require a resolution that is sufficient for the medium being used (at least 266 dpi for print.) This renders most web files (72 dpi) useless. Scaling of your logo is also an issue, as any enlargement past the default size and/or resolution will cause the image to degrade. You’ll also need to insure that your image is in the correct color palette (RGB for screen, CMYK for print.)

Preferred for: Web usage (RGB) 4 color process printing (CMYK – if high enough resolution,)
Can be used for: Internal low resolution printing & addition to office software docs. Suppliers of marketing incentives that allow you to upload files to their server (Cafe Press for example) can use this file (with adequate resolution.) As they ‘gang run’ your printing, many online discount printers will require this 4 color format of your logo for use in business card and/or letterhead printing.
Not applicable for: Black & white reproduction, enlargement and/or large images, format conversion.

Spot-color vector

Spot Color Vector FileFile extensions

.ai .eps .svg

The most common (and versatile) type of logo and format. Can be printed using economical spot color reproduction, while the logo can be enlarged due to the unlimited resolution properties of the vector file type. This is the type of format and logo combination that is recommended by most design professionals.

Preferred for: Spot color printing (letterheads, business cards.) Enlargement and
Can be used for: Digital plotter (signage,) file conversion (to pixel based images and 4 color process), enlargement, two color silk screen (mugs, pens and other premium incentives.)
Not applicable for: Web use, black & white gray scale & linear logo reproduction, use in four color process printing, Flash animation (needs conversion to RGB).

Two-color pixel (bitmap or raster)

Two Color BitmapFile extensions:

.gif .jpg .tif .ps .png

We can’t really call this a ‘spot color’ logo as it requires many shades of black and red to print (see enlargement.) And even though this company logo only features two colors visually, it still requires 4 color process reproduction to print. Enlargement, like all pixel based images is an issue. You’ll also need to insure that your image is in the correct color palette (RGB for screen, CMYK for print.)

Preferred for: Web usage (RGB) 4 color process printing (CMYK – if high enough resolution.)
Can be used for: Internal low resolution printing & addition to office software docs. Suppliers of marketing incentives that allow you to upload files to their server (Cafe Press for example) can use this file (with adequate resolution). As they ‘gang run’ your printing, many online discount printers will require this 4 color format of your logo for use in business card and/or letterhead printing.
Not applicable for: Black & white reproduction, enlargement and/or large images, format conversion.

Black & white halftone (grayscale) vector

Black & White Greyscale VectorFile extensions:

.ai .eps . svg

While this logo appears to have multiple shades of silver or gray, all the tones are actually made up of small dots of black (see screens and tones for more.) As the logo is vector based, we can enlarge it without any fear of image degradation. When the logo is printed (using one color reproduction) the tones will appear smooth (as long as the resolution is high enough.)

Preferred for: Traditional black and white printing, newspaper advertising, flyers.
Can be used for: Enlargement.
Not applicable for: Web.

Black & white halftone (grayscale) pixel (bitmap)

Black & White Halftone BitmapFile extensions:

.gif .jpg .tif .ps .png

While this logo appears to be made up a few shades of grey, in actuality it requires hundreds of tones to reproduce. While we can’t enlarge this version of your logo, it can be printed adequately as a pixel based black and white version (as long as the resolution of the image allows.) Converting a 72 dpi web based image will not be sufficient for any type of printing, including typical office desktop models.

Preferred for: Traditional black and white printing (if high enough resolution,) inclusion in office software and internal documents.
Can be used for: Black and white photocopies.
Not applicable for: Low resolution black and white reproduction (FAX and Checks,) high resolution black and white reproduction (unless image resolution is adequate,) enlargement or format conversion.

Black & white linear vector

Black & White Linear VectorFile extensions:

.ai .eps .svg

This logo ONLY features 100% shades of black. It can be enlarged and the edges of the solid areas will remain sharp and clean. When it is printed (regardless of the resolution) this image will appear crisp and recognizable. You can safely use this image on low resolution reproduction (FAX and Checks, etc) and your logo will appear as well as can be expected.

Preferred for: Low resolution black and white printing, one color printing, etching, one color silk-screening (mugs, pens, T-shirts, etc.) Vinyl plotter.
Can be used for: Enlargement.
Not applicable for: Web or color printing.

Black & white linear pixel (bitmap)

black-white-linear-bitmapFile extensions:

.gif .jpg .tif .ps .png

Even though this logo appears to be made up of black solids, because it is Pixel based, the image requires hundreds of shades of gray in order to preview correctly. This is known as ‘aliasing’ and is typical of all electronic images. Once again, we cannot enlarge this image without loss of quality and ‘crispness’ and even when printed as a one color BW, the edges of this image may appear soft or ‘fuzzy’ (above right.)

Preferred for: Low resolution black and white printing, inclusion in office software and internal documents.
Can be used for: Black and white printing (with adequate resolution.)
Not applicable for: Web, color printing, enlargement or format conversion.

Need professional file formats created? Take a look at our logo repair services to see how we can help. View examples of logo repairs to see how we can correct improperly formatted logo art. Questions? See our logo repair FAQ for more.

SD

Creative Director

Want to get started on your new logo?

Submit your project online - our designers are ready to help!

Order Now