Many of you may serve on committees and are responsible for providing pictures to a printer. YIKES! What do you do now? What are you supposed to send to the printer?They want a certain kind of file extension. What the heck is that????
A file extension is the suffix of a file name that comes after the “dot.” For example, a file named “Lyla_birthday.jpg” has the file extension “.jpg.”
Among the different extensions: JPG, GIF, PDF, BMP or PNG. Each of these types of photos does a different job, so it is important to know which one to use for which job.
So here’s a short (and extremely simplified) primer on photo extensions.
JPG: JPEG image stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group which developed the format. It compresses the information in the picture for use on the web, but maintains high quality and limitless color. This is the most common and the default extension on most computers. It can be used in virtually any situation.
GIF: Graphical Interchange Format. GIFs are common format for Web graphics, but are limited to the number of colors they can display. GIF images can also be animated and saved as “animated GIFs,” which are often used to display ads on websites. They may also include transparent pixels, so GIFs can be layered over other images or text.
PDF: Portable Document Format. Commonly used for e-mail attachments or for saving publications in a standard format for viewing on multiple computers; usually created with Adobe Acrobat or another PDF creation program. PDF files can be opened and viewed using the free Adobe Reader, which is available for most Web browsers. PDF files may contain text, images, forms, annotations, outlines, and other data. They preserve fonts and formatting electronically and appear the same on the screen as they will when printed on paper. Commercial printers love PDFs and may ask for them when printing your job.
PNG: Portable Network Graphic. Similar to GIF, but a PNG cannot be animated. When you grab pictures off the web, they will often come in as PNG. These will need to be SAVED AS JPG or PDF for use in some applications.
BMP: Bitmap Image File. Uncompressed image comprised of a rectangular grid of pixels which are little squares of color. All digital images are made up of pixels, You may never use a BMP image EVER.
So, in your everyday world, you will use JPGs and PNGs in your computer. You will send and receive PDF documents as attachments in emails and to share and print. Unless you’re working in graphics you will rarely use BMP or GIF.
As a final note, you will need a photo editing program to change one image extension to another.
So when you are tasked with printing the flyers for National Night Out, don’t despair! Just remember that JPGs and PDFs go to the printer!