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Course & Subject Guides

Electronic Theses and Dissertations Support Guide

Native vs Common File Formats

   Common Image File Formats

Joint Photographic Experts Groups (.jpg, jpeg)

Good for small files but can cause you to lose some quality in the image resolution when printing or when zoomed in.


Graphic Interchange Format (.gif)

Good for animations but not suggested for high quality web graphics or print usage. 


Tagged Image File Format (.tif, .tiff)

The choice for archival quality and high pixel resolution. It will be the necessary format for professional printing, but the file sizes can be a bit large for ETDs.


Portable Network Graphics (.png)

A good choice for web graphics that keeps the size small and retains the majority of the image quality. Ideal for using transparencies in your image. 


Bitmap Image File (.bmp)

Image file made of rasters that are often large and uncompressed due to their lack of compression. They are rich in color, high quality, and compatible with more Windows programs.


Encapsulated PostScript (.eps)

A commonly used illustration file format that uses vectors and can be used across many illustration applications. 


(.raw, .cr2, .nef, .orf, .sr2, etc.)

Uncompressed image files usually from a camera or scanner. (.raw, .cr2, .nef, .orf, .sr2, etc.) These formats will contain a large amount of information about the image but will need to be processed via an image editing software before being used in your document. These files could be considered the equivalent to a digital version of an analog cameras negative.

  Native File Formats
PSD Adobe Photoshop Document    
AI Adobe Illustrator

Native file formats often contain information about an image and the information needed to use the file in a particular application. Examples of native files would be a Photoshop Document (.PSD) or CorelDRAW (.CDR). These file types would feature information such as layers, color adjustments, or features that can only be interacted with via that particular application. It's always best to keep a version of the native file that you used to create your final image. Most applications feature some sort of export or save as feature that will allow you to choose the most appropriate common image file format to use in your research document.