As AmplifyDMC’s in-house graphic designer, I’m always asking clients for high-resolution logos or photos to use as I design marketing and communications pieces. Many times, I receive something that looks fine on-screen but isn’t suitable for printing.

But what do “high resolution” or “low resolution” even mean? In the print world, DPI stands for “dots per inch.” Anything lower than 300dpi will look pixilated and fuzzy when printed. Graphics meant for screens are measured in PPI, or “pixels per inch.” Images on the web are displayed at 72ppi, which is considered low resolution even though they may look crisp and sharp on your computer screen. If you’ve ever saved an image or logo from a website and tried to use it in a printed document, you’ll know that it just doesn’t look good.

Here’s a very basic guide to the most common image file types and when to use them:

PNG
A PNG is a low-resolution graphic and is great for web pages, e-newsletters, and PowerPoint presentations. PNGs can have a transparent background, meaning you can place your logo on a colored background without that dreaded white box around it. If you’re asked to provide a high-resolution version of your logo, however, a PNG isn’t going to fit the bill.

JPG or JPEG
JPGs can be high-resolution OR low-resolution – so how can you tell? One way is to look at the file size. A JPG that clocks in at 1.4 MB or even 750 KB will almost surely print better than a JPG with a file size of 123 KB. Save that small JPG for the web!

PDF
PDFs were designed by Adobe to be truly universal – a PDF can be viewed on any computer (PC or Mac), without needing a design program (you will need the free Acrobat Reader software, however). It embeds fonts, photos, and graphics so that they won’t change when opened by someone else. PDFs can also be high-resolution or low-resolution, too. Use the file size trick mentioned above if you’re not sure.

EPS
Your designer or printer will likely want to hug/kiss/high-five you if you provide them with an EPS of your logo. An EPS is a universal file that can be opened in any design software and is almost always high resolution. When a logo is saved as an EPS, it is usually in vector format – meaning it’s composed of shapes and lines and can be scaled to any size without losing sharpness.

BONUS!
Here are the file extensions for the most common design programs:
.ai = Adobe Illustrator
.psd = Adobe Photoshop
.indd = Adobe InDesign

If you hired a graphic designer to create a logo or marketing piece, they likely used one of the above programs and should be able to provide the file when asked (if they haven’t already). Be sure to save these in a memorable location so that they are always there when you need them.