Anyone and everyone who has ever edited and formatted an image wondered about the different image formats. Why do we sometimes use a JPEG and other times PNG? What’s the meaning of GIF and RAW? Well, folks, in this article, you will find the answers to all of your burning questions.

We will look at the 10 most common image formats and understand what they are all about. We will also guide you through figuring out which format works best where. By the time you are done reading this article, you will have a complete understanding of every type of image format. 

Common Image Formats

Understanding of different image formats requires you to know which ones are the most common. Here are the top 10 most common image formats in use in 2024:

JPEG (or JPG) – Joint Photographic Experts Group

The most common and popular image format has to be JPEG or simply JPG. This format is most widely used by photographs for complex images with lots of colors. The format is best for storing images on websites because of how efficient its compression algorithm is. Also JPG format is supported by every platform and device. This ensures you won’t have trouble sharing or showing it.

PNG – Portable Network Graphics

Alongside JPG, PNG is the second most common image format. PNG must be on your list because of its features to understand different image formats. This format supports lossless compression and transparency. This means it’s best for images with text, graphics, or illustrations. You will see PNG in images of logos, icons, and graphics on websites.

GIF – Graphics Interchange Format

One of the more unique image formats is GIF and this one supports animation plus transparency. Basic animation, like banners, icons, and memes, uses GIF format. Transparent background images also use this format. It has a limited color palette so GIF images tend to be bigger in size. 

TIFF – Tagged Image File

Another unique and niche image format is TIFF. You mostly see this format in professional photography and printing. This is because it supports both lossy and lossless compression, which helps preserve high-resolution image quality. TIFF images are much bigger in size compared to the other ones we mentioned until now. 

PSD – Photoshop Document

PSD is a format that comes only from Adobe Photoshop, the most popular image editing software. This format’s unique feature is that it preserves layers, masks, and other editing features. This is very helpful in letting users make non-destructive edits to their images. You will only see this format while an image is being edited. The final output is usually in JPEG or PNG.

PDF – Portable Document Format

Images of documents are mainly seen in PDF format because they contain images, text, and graphics. This format is also very easy to share electronically like in ebooks, brochures, and presentations. This format can also embed images in other formats we mentioned above; thus, it’s helpful in document printing and digital distribution.

EPS – Encapsulated Postscript

Another unique image that’s mainly seen in graphic design and print media is EPS. This format is ideal for logos, illustrations, and other graphics since you can scale it without compromising quality. You can open and edit them in Adobe Illustrator so graphic designers use them often. 

AI – Adobe Illustrator Document

Another native image format from Adobe is AI, which comes from Illustrator, a vector-based graphic design software. This format is used for creating and editing logos, illustrations, and typography. It preserves vector paths, shapes, and colors. This helps in scaling and editing vectors without affecting quality.

INDD – Adobe InDesign Document

Again, we see a native image format from Adobe, and this one is from InDesign, a desktop publishing software. This is used for creating print layouts like magazines, brochures, and newspapers. It supports numerous image formats like JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. 

RAW – Raw Image Formats

The last format on our list for understanding different image formats is RAW which is for unprocessed image files. This format is seen in files captured by digital cameras. These files have raw sensor data. They hold the highest level of detail which allows for extensive editing in post-production. Only professionals use this format since they need maximum control over image quality and editing.

Factors to Remember When Choosing an Image Format

Now that you understand image formats, it’s time to learn how to choose the best one for your task. Here are some factors to remember when you are choosing one format:


Compression is the process by which an image size is reduced, greatly affecting the image quality. You need to consider compression when you are choosing an image format because it impacts everything else.

Formats like JPEG use lossy compression, which discards some image data to give you a smaller size. Images with complex colors are great for this format because some data loss is not noticeable.

But formats like PNG and TIFF offer lossless compression meaning nothing is excluded. Images with text, graphics, or illustrations are ideal for these formats because you want to have sharpness and clarity.

Carefully consider compression because it will help you balance file size and image quality. If you can get away with data loss, go with JPEG; otherwise, PNG or TIFF are safe bets.

Image Quality

Image quality refers to an image’s clarity, detail, and resolution. When choosing an image format, consider how different formats affect image quality.

JPEG maintains decent quality with smaller file sizes, suitable for photographs and web graphics where slight detail loss is acceptable.

Due to lossless compression, PNG and TIFF offer higher quality and clarity, ideal for images with text or graphics.

Consider the intended use and detail required. For professional printing or graphics, choose PNG or TIFF. For web graphics prioritizing smaller sizes, JPEG is more suitable.


Transparency refers to an image’s ability to have see-through areas. It’s crucial to think about transparency when picking an image format, particularly for graphics, logos, and designs that need blending with other elements.

PNG and GIF support transparency, allowing you to seamlessly make images with see-through backgrounds or overlay them on other graphics. This is perfect for logos, icons, and designs where keeping transparency is key.

However, formats like JPEG don’t support transparency and will always have a solid background. If transparency matters, opt for PNG or GIF to achieve the desired effect.

Consider whether transparency is necessary for your image and choose a format accordingly. For graphics needing transparent backgrounds or overlaying, PNG or GIF are best. For photos or images where transparency isn’t needed, JPEG may work fine.


Animation refers to an image’s ability to show motion. When picking an image format, consider animation, especially for dynamic content.

Formats like GIF and APNG (Animated Portable Network Graphics) support animation, perfect for simple animations like memes and banners.

For advanced animation, choose formats like APNG or WebP for smoother, higher-quality results.

Consider your animation needs and select the right format. GIFs are good for simple animations, while APNG or WebP are better for advanced ones.

Read More: Complete Facebook Image Size Guidelines: Pixel Perfection


Hopefully, understanding different image formats has become easier than when you started. This is a very complex subject you won’t understand in one day. However, the more you work with the common image formats we mentioned, the more familiar you will become with them. The more familiar you get, the better your idea of when to use them will be.

The four factors we mentioned are basic but important ones that you should remember. They will help you decide which image format to use to get the best results.