Cheatsheet: Explaining Common File Types for Your Logo

This short guide will teach you about the file types commonly provided to clients at the end of a branding and logo design project: .png, .jpg, .pdf, .svg, .ai, and .gif. You’ll also be able to download a cheatsheet for future reference!


When you receive the files for your branding project, you may be surprised by the number of different file types provided. These days, I provide about 5-6 different file types for a client’s logo suite. This can be confusing for those who aren’t used to working with anything beyond the commonly known JPEG! This confusion can lead to frustration and errors, so this guide and downloadable cheatsheet aim to help you feel more confident when using your logo assets.

Download your free cheatsheet

A reference sheet to keep on hand for when you aren’t sure what file type to use of your logo. Includes .png, .jpg, .pdf, .ai, .svg, .ai and .gif.




First, I want to explain the difference between raster and vector graphics. Every image file type is generally going to fall into one of these categories and will affect how they can be used.


Raster Graphics

Raster graphics are made up of individual pixels (squares), and each pixel holds one color. Together, they form an image. The quality and size of the image depend on the number of pixels it has. The more pixels an image has, the higher the quality and larger it will be. Conversely, the fewer the pixels, the smaller and lower quality it will be.

Raster graphics are best suited for high-detailed imagery, like photographs. This is why cameras capture raster files.

What this means:
Raster graphics are limited by the number of pixels, so the image cannot infinitely scale. If you scale it beyond its maximum dimensions it will become pixelated or blurry.

Raster files of your logo:

  • .png
  • .jpg
  • .gif



Vector Graphics

Unlike raster graphics, vector graphics are composed of shapes, lines, and curves – not pixels. They are generated by unseen mathematical formulas associated with the shapes, which allow the graphics to be scaled infinitely without losing quality (i.e., no pixelation).

While scalability is a significant advantage, vector graphics have limitations when it comes to capturing complex details. They require design software, such as Adobe Illustrator or Canva, to create and edit them. This makes them ideal for digital graphic design illustrations, such as graphic illustration styles, icons, logos, patterns, etc.

What this means:
You can scale these types of files up and down without creating pixelation.

Common vector file formats for logos:

  • .pdf
  • .svg
  • .ai



About this file type overall:
PNG’s are a raster file type known for its ability to support transparent backgrounds, making it a preferred option for web and graphic design files. It supports lossless data compression, meaning that it retains more information and has a larger file size. It specializes in handling detailed, high-contrast web graphics (which is why screenshots are saved as .pngs). However, it doesn’t handle photographs as well and is not ideal for printing due to being an RGB (web) based graphic, which can cause color inaccuracies when printing.

When to use a .png logo file:

  • I recommend defaulting to this file type for most uses of your logo uses, especially if majority of your placements are digital!
  • Use a PNG for any time you want the background the logo is being placed on to show behind it.
  • Avoid using PNG files for printing unless it is a smaller placement of your logo, is black and white or if the printing company accepts it as a file type. Otherwise, just note that the colors may not print as accurately due to PNG files being an RGB color format (a color format that only exists digitally).


  • Always make sure there is high enough contrast between the logo and the background you are placing it on, following any brand guidelines or examples provided by your designer.
  • Need to use your logo for printing purposes like a worksheet, sign, or banner? Opt for a .pdf, .ai or .jpg file.


About this file type overall:
Popular for photographs and other complex images due to their ability to capture large amounts of colors and details within a smaller file size. Unlike .pngs, they cannot capture transparent backgrounds (hence why your .jpg logo files have a defaulted white background included if no other background color was included).

JPGs also have high color accuracy and can be used for web or print if the original artwork or file is saved in the right color format (RGB = Web, CMYK = Print).

When to use a .jpg logo file:

  • Better for print than .png, especially for smaller formats (business cards, fliers, etc) and can also be used for digital purposes


  • JPEGs do not have transparent backgrounds so be aware that they will always have a white background if your logo files do not include a baked in background color.


About this file type overall:
PDFs are often used for documents because they can be viewed on almost any device and maintain the formatting of the original document. They can be very simple or very complex, with the ability to be interactive with buttons and form fields. They are high-quality and also frequently preserve the vector and raster files within them. All of these qualities make PDFs an excellent option for print and digital document sharing.

When to use a .pdf logo file:

  • Use the PDF version of your logo for printing purposes, especially if it is for a larger format type of print job, such as a large printed banner or a large shop sign.


  • Your .pdf logo file contains the vector graphic of your logo within it, which is what ensures that the print is crystal clear
  • You can provide this to your graphic designer to access your vector logo


About this file type:
An .svg file is a “Scalable Vector Graphic” file that uses both image and text-based data to display the graphic. It is typically used for websites and apps because it can be scaled to any size without pixelation. Icons, logos, and charts work particularly well with .svg files since they allow for transparent backgrounds and scalability.

Most design software can import .svg files for further use and editing.

When to use an .svg logo file:

  • Use the .svg logo file on your website so that the image can scale (most websites accept them)
  • You can open .svg files using Canva, which is a huge advantage for small business owners who typically do not have access to software like Adobe Illustrator. This provides an opportunity to access and use the original scalable vector graphics contained within it.


  • If your website platform doesn’t accept .svg files, you can use a .png instead.
  • SVG files are especially helpful if you have been given patterns or accent graphics with your brand package because you can access the vector graphics and adjust the size and colors.
  • Provide this to your web designer


About this file type:
.ai is a vector graphics file format created and used with Adobe Illustrator. A lot of designers and illustrators use Adobe Illustrator as the original working space to create vector graphics such as logos, illustrations, and icons.

When to use a .ai logo file:

  • You will primarily use .ai files for print purposes, especially for larger format printing and when you want to be sure the image is clear


  • Give this file to your graphic designer or web designer so that they have all of your original working files for your logo and branding assets
  • For clients of Joyage Studio, the only brand asset I provide as a .ai file is their brand board. This is to simplify and reduce the number of logo files since most people are not able to use or even preview .ai files unless they have Adobe Illustrator.


About this file type overall:
GIF is a raster file type that is commonly used on the web to display simple images and animations at a small and efficient file size. It is limited to 8 bits per pixel, or 256 total colors, resulting in a small file size. Compare this to a 24-bit JPEG that contains 16 million colors, which means that using a GIF requires limiting the color palette or accepting some pixelation.

Although GIF has an interesting history, it is nowadays most well-known for fun looping animations and memes that are widely used on the internet and in text messages.

When to use a .gif logo file:

  • I don’t frequently provide clients with GIF logo files, but if I do, it’s because the logo has been turned into a simple frame animation as part of the branding project.
  • Animated GIF logo files should be used exclusively for web purposes, such as on your website, in emails, and even in text messages!

Download your free cheatsheet

A reference sheet to keep on hand for when you aren’t sure what file type to use of your logo. Includes .png, .jpg, .pdf, .ai, .svg, .ai and .gif.



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