TIFF vs PSD vs EPS vs PDF vs…

What file format should you use when using InDesign? Which ones to avoid?

It seems like every few months this topic pops up again: Which is the best file format to use for graphics? Some folks insist that everyone should use EPS and TIFF. Others think AI and PSD. And what about PNG or JPEG?! Here’s my take on the subject, after over 20 years of doing this:

EPS is a dying format. There is virtually no reason for you to ever save anything yourself as EPS. Here are good reasons to use an EPS file:

  • if you already have an old vector graphic (from Illustrator or Freehand or something);
  • if some software is making it for you (such as this Barcode plug-in); in this case, the software is likely doing special stuff that can only be done in PostScript, then encapsulated in the eps.

PDF is the current and future of publishing. If you have a vector Illustrator document, save it in PDF or AI (see below). The only reason to save a Photoshop document as a PDF is if you have vector type or “shape” layers. (No other format, besides eps, can save vector info from PS.)

AI (native Illustrator format) is great for most files from Illustrator, as long as you’re not using them in other programs. If you’re going to use them in something other than InDesign, consider using PDF instead. By the way, if you save an .ai file, make sure you include the PDF in it (that’s an option when saving), or else InDesign can’t read it.

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