Graphic File Formats – Which Ones Work Best For Printing Your Art?

Ready to promote your business with an order of new t-shirts or promotional products? Great! Just make sure you send the right file format to the printer. Please use AI, EPS or PSD format. Okay?

It Sounds easy enough, but if you can’t tell the difference between a JPG and PDF and a GIF, this is a big problem.

The world of graphic file formats is tricky. Save a document in a program like Adobe Photoshop and the options menu reads like an alphabet soup of file types. Knowing the basics of file formats saves you time and hassle when it comes time to print. Have a question about graphic file formats for printing? Contact us and we will answer your questions and help you get the best results!

Here is a list of commonly used graphic file formats we deal with every day.

File Formats We Love


The PDF (Portable Document Format) file, invented by Adobe Systems, is widely used for sharing files on different operating systems and devices. The free Adobe Acrobat Reader program opens PDF files, or use a web browser,such as Firefox and Google Chrome. The PDF if perfect for sending in high-quality artwork with either vector or bitmap graphics. Can our artists can edit PDFs? Yes, but the results depend on the quality of file elements.


EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. The EPS file format dates back to the early days of desktop publishing. Designed to contain vector or bitmap graphics, EPS files were designed to communicate graphic information to printers. Many designers prefer the newer PDF format over EPS, but we can still work with EPS files if needed.


The AI stands for Adobe Illustrator Artwork files. The AI file format was created by Adobe Systems and can contain both vector and bitmap graphics. In the hands of a talented designer, AI files can create artwork with photo-realistic quality. Sharing an AI file allows our artists to edit artwork and make changes with ease.


Used by Corel Draw graphics software, the CDR file format uses vectors to create clean lines and colors. While Adobe Illustrator is still the leader for vector art, Corel Draw still has supporters in the graphic arts community who have been using it for years.


Created by Adobe Photoshop, PSD stands for Photoshop Document. This format supports layers, allowing one file to contain multiple images and to combine them to create a final image. They create highly-detailed images with outstanding quality, however, more layers and effects can create bigger and harder to manage files.

These File Formats Are OK


The JPG (or JPEG) gets its name from the Joint Photographic Experts Group, the creators of the file type. Used by major graphic software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, digital cameras and web browsers. JPGS can create high-resolution images with bright colors, but only if saved as high-quality files.


The Portable Network Graphics format was designed as a replacement for the GIF file and frequently used on web pages. Like the EPS and the PDF, the PNG format uses bitmaps and vectors. PNGs look great on the internet, but the limits of their color palettes make them a poor choice for printing.

These File Formats Are Not So Great


The Graphics Interchange Format, used by Web designers for animated images and optimized graphic elements, is acceptable for use in web browsers. GIF files offer limited resolution and color. Graphic artists avoid this format for anything printed.


The DOC file is the standard format for Microsoft Word. The DOCX format replaced the DOC in 2007. Both files hold text information or bitmap images. Microsoft Word is word processor, not a graphic design tool. It is far better to send art in the PDF format.

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