Making Sense of Logo File Formats: Learning What’s What

Posted by on March 10, 2013 in Blog

Ever wonder why your designer gave you all those files for your logo? Or why your printer asks for vector and your web designer wants a PNG, GIF or JPEG? Social Media adds various sizes to the growing list. Facebook, Twitter, favicons (what’s a favicon?) can make your head spin. No worries, read on and I will explain what’s what.

Each media platform (i.e., print, website, social media, email) has its own needs. There is no “one size fits all” file. Here are a few common file types you’ve probably heard about:

The best place to start is with the mighty vector file. Let’s get started.

Vector Files: You want your logo in vector format first. It is scalable, which means that if you need a 20 foot long sign for the outside of a building or a 2 inch logo embroidered on a shirt or a 3-sheet poster outside your venue for an event it will print well without any degradation.

• Vector files are usually built in Adobe Illustrator. The file can be saved in several formats from there, such as a PDF, which is easily emailed and viewed, (more importantly is that it can be opened by professionals in the native program, such as Illustrator and manipulated). Sometimes the designer gives you the vector file with a “.eps” or “.ai” at the end. You may not be able to open these files, but keep them in a safe spot, because your printer may ask for them. Note: Not all logos saved as a PDF are vector files, when in doubt send them all.

• Now this is critical: The text should be converted to outlines and not stay in their native font format. Why? Not all fonts are available across various machines and devices, and this helps alleviate the problem of others who may not have the font to view the file.

• Once you have your logo as a vector file, you or your designer can create all other types of files from there, such as a JPEG or PNG.

JPEG, PNG & GIF Files: Consider file sizes when you create images for the web. Smaller images load more quickly, but larger files look better, this is a judgment call. I usually try to have the file as small as possible with as little pixelation possible. Here are some hot file tips:

• JPEGs work great for email blasts and your website.

• Want a transparent background behind your icon? Use a PNG or GIF.

• Photos look best as JPEG’s and simple solid colors look best as GIF’s and PNG’s.

Your logo is going to be seen in a lot of places. No matter its color, you will need two more versions: one in white, one in black with transparent backgrounds.

Favicons: You know that cute little picture next to a URL? That’s a favicon, otherwise known as a shortcut or bookmark icon about 16 by 16 pixels in size. It’s usually created as a variation of your logo and needs to be small, yet recognizable.

Social Media Files: Facebook, Twitter and all the others have specific requirements for the logos and images you upload to their sites. Here are a couple of sizes for Facebook and Twitter.

For Facebook you have the cover photo and the profile image at the top of your timeline. The cover photo is the large panoramic image space, it’s specs are 315 pixels high by 851 pixels wide. You’ll want your image to be at least 720 pixels wide for it to view nicely. If the file size is larger than the specs, you can move the picture around and crop how you want it displayed. This is a great space to show more than one image, you can have a montage created to the exact specs. Your profile image will most likely be your logo. It’s the smaller square that overlaps at the bottom left of your cover photo. The display size is 160 by 160 pixels, however you need to upload the image at 180 by 180 pixels.

For Twitter you have the header and the profile picture. The recommended dimensions of the header are 1252 by 626 pixels with a maximum file size of 5mb. The header acts as a background for your written profile, so you may need to try different backgrounds to see what is easier to read. The profile picture needs to look good in a square format and I suggest using the same one you use for Facebook.

Have questions? Email me at jeanine@jldavisdesign.com

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