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Which image format should I choose: JPEG, GIF, PSD, EPS, or WMF?

When you click on a preview and go to the download area, you may find that the clipart image or web graphic you have chosen is available in more than one file format. That is, you may be able to download it as a JPEG, GIF, PSD, EPS, or WMF. If you aren't sure which format is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. In what application do I intend to use the image (Microsoft Word, QuarkXpress, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW, etc.)?

  2. What file formats can that application accept?
    • If you don't know which formats are compatible with your product, check its help documentation.
    • If your application doesn't accept raster images, you cannot use JPEG or GIF. If it doesn't accept vector images, you cannot use EPS or WMF.
NOTE: If you have no idea where you'll be using your image or what you'll be using it for, go with JPEG. It's one of the most popular formats, and one of the easiest to open.

Which format should you pick once you've narrowed the options down? Below are some very general rules of thumb. While there are numerous exceptions to these rules, and the information presented here should in no way be considered complete, this should help you get started.

Use JPEG for:

  • images with many colors
  • rendered 3D graphics
  • photos
  • paint programs (like Photoshop or Paint Shop)

Use GIF for:

  • black and white images
  • images with large areas of solid color (cartoons, line art)
  • images you intend to make transparent
  • images that need to look the same in a wide variety of browsers
  • paint programs (like Photoshop or Paint Shop)

Use PSD for:

  • certain Adobe products (Photoshop, ImageReady, Illustrator, etc.)
  • images you'd like to edit, using layers

Use EPS for:

  • Macintosh systems
  • PostScript-compatible printer (may be required)
  • images you intend to scale
  • programs that accept vector images but don't take WMF
  • draw programs (like Illustrator or CorelDRAW)

Use WMF for:

  • Windows systems
  • Microsoft applications
  • applications that cost less than $70
  • images you intend to scale
  • programs that accept vector images but don't take EPS
  • draw programs (like Illustrator or CorelDRAW)

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