Thursday, 10 October 2013


Format can be described as many things with relevance to graphic design.

To begin however, it is primarily a term to describe the physical shape and size of a final product, such as books, packaging or websites. The format selection process depends on many things such as the designer's vision, budget and practical considerations. Considerations could be target audience, where will it be used/displayed and the nature of the information.

Format selection often includes materials, scale of production and use of finishing techniques. These can often enhance a design, without incurring extra costs.

Page Sizes:

Below are scanned in pages from The Fundamentals of Creative Design by Ambrose and Harris. It explains page sizes, american page sizes and iso dimensions. Page sizes are important when designing to ensure accuracy and ease of printing correctly.

Layouts for editorial and book design.

Proportions of height and width in relationship to basic sizing and layout of a book.

Standard ISO paper sizes shown above in a diagram as well as in mm for use in adobe suite and printing.

However, not all design works are to paper sizes or ISO measurements. Some are off the scale such as billboards, whilst other forms of design such as packaging takes on a different approach entirely depending on the product.

These would've been designed to a specific size and and printed in pieces and put together on the billboard, or printed onto material which is hung from the building.

Two different types of format, both have different shape and scale, which would have effect on the design, processes and finishes used. 

Raster and Vector Images:

Rasters are photographs and vectors are illustrations. They are the two most common type of printed image today. 

Enlargement of a raster file produces artefacts of pixelation, so detail, sharpness and quality is lost, for example, photos.

Enlargement of a vector image which remain perfect no matter what size, because vector graphics are based on drawn paths.

File Types:

Here is a quick list of the different file extensions you may come across when working with a graphic designer, what each of them stand for, and how the file format is used.
AI: Adobe Illustrator
AI files are vector files used by designers and commercial printers to generate files of different file formats and sizes. 
AI files can only be opened using Adobe Illustrator and may be created in layers. 
An AI file is one of the most preferred formats by printers, promotional product companies, silk screeners, banner and sign companies, and other third party creatives.
EPS: Encapsulated Postscript
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. 
EPS files can be opened using Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, or Adobe Photoshop. 
A vector EPS file is one of the most preferred formats by printers, promotional product companies, silk screeners, banner and sign companies, and other third party creatives.
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 to 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.
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 files can only be opened using Photoshop and may be created in layers.
JPG: Joint Photographic Experts Group
A JPG file is a compressed image file that does not support a transparent background. 
The level of compression in JPG files can vary in resolution with high quality for desktop printing, medium quality for web viewing and low quality for email. 
When compressed repeatedly the overall quality of a JPG image is reduced.
GIF: Graphics Interchange Format
GIF files are low resolution files most commonly used for web and email purposes. 
Almost all browsers can support the use of GIF files, which use a compression scheme to keep the file size small. 
GIF files can be created with a transparent background.
TIF: Tagged Image File Format
The TIF/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 and 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.
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 like GIF files, PNG files can be created with a transparent background.
Saving Images:
If an image is designed for print then it generally is saved as a TIFF in CMYK format at 300dpi. 
If an image is to be used on screen then it is generally saved as JPEG in RGB at a resolution of either 96 or 72dpi.
Dpi are the amounts of dots per inch on screen.
When saving TIFF files it is possible to compress them in order to make smaller files. File sizes are reduced by limiting the amount of info contained in an image. This in turn makes image quality lower so should only be used at the correct time.
When working with images and layers, it needs to be saved as a PSD, TFF or a Large Document File Format with layers, otherwise it will be un-editable. 

The image shown is saved in different file formats for comparison.