24 Replies Latest reply on Apr 27, 2010 10:26 AM by Wade_Zimmerman

    Help Understanding File Formats


      I am needing some help with file formats.  Is there an alternative to EPS files that allows clients to use vector graphic files in their projects?  My client has a vector graphic logo that she would like the background to be transparent and the clarity of the vector graphic rather than a Jpeg.  I have read on here that EPS files are becoming outdated, but don't quite understand what is replacing it.  I know SVG files can be used, but I was thinking that the user would need Adobe software to open it.  Can someone please help me understand which file formats are best for logos?




        • 1. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
          Scott Falkner Level 5

          For Illustrator users, the preferred format is a plain Illustrator .ai file. The default options when saving as Adobe Illustrator file include embedding a PDF file inside the Illustrator file. This means the data is stored twice: once as a fully editable Illustrator file, complete with live effects, links to placed art, layers, and more; and once as a PDF which can be read by many programs, including InDesign, Photoshop, Apple Preview, MS Word, Adobe Reader, and many more.

          If you are working exclusively with Adobe programs, there is no reason to save your Illustrator file as EPS. If you need to transfer your Illustrator file to another program, then you must deal with the limitations of that program and its import options, which may mean saving as EPS. If you are working in a non-Adobe drawing program, such as CorelDraw, but yo want to convert your artwork to Illustrator, then the same limitations apply. Try saving as many formats, including Illustrator, PDF, EPS, and the program's native format. Open each in Illustrator and use the file that retained the most editable information, such as layers, text, and linked files.

          Tell us what programs, and what versions, you are using. Chances are there is someone here who has experience in that conversion and can talk you through it.

          • 2. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
            Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

            All of what Scott wrote is very sensible. But if the your client is using Word or powerpoint or something that uses jpeg there is a good chance that the png format which is getting more and more popular on the web as well can be used. Word is not to my knowledge a cmyk program but is sued to send to press on occasion as it is so popular and so the png and the rest of the word  documented get converted by the service or prepress. Png supports transparency were as jpeg does not but only in a program like Fireworks can you get to any vector features to edit. A good reason for having Fireworks.


            However ai files can be easily placed in Word as is there may be on a 3D object created in Illustrator a display problems but that is only a display artifact
            it will print fine from Word.


            The other format the supports transparency is a Photoshop file .psd which can contain an ai smart object as well.


            Here is an ai file over a colored stroked rectangle in a Word Document Notice the support for AI's very sharp feature transparent gradients.Notice the display artifact on the 3D object, does not print.



            Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 4.12.43 PM.png


            Here is a Photoshop file you will get the same result with a png notice the only difference is ai is vector but you get no display artifact with psd files.


            Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 4.14.08 PM.png


            As far as png goes you must not use the the Save for Microsoft feature as it appears they have destroyed the support for transpatrency so you have to export to png and then choose a transparent background but this is the result.


            Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 4.24.35 PM.png

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
              JETalmage-71mYin Level 3
              function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

              function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}My client has a vector graphic logo that she would like the background to be transparent...


              I'll assume your client wants to use the logo in "office" or "works" programs (most probably Microsoft Word) on the Windows platform.


              The first thing you need to understand is EPS stands for "Encapsulated PostScript." An EPS file is not necessarily vector. EPS is a "meta format"; a "container" format that can contain any combination of raster, vector, or text objects and convey that content as a "locked box" (thus, the "encapsulated" word) to a program that knows nothing about PostScript, so that the receiving program can just "pass it on" to a PostScript printer. When that happens, the PostScript "brain" embedded in the printing device interprets the EPS as it prints, thereby gaining the resolution-independent advantage of vector graphics (assuming the EPS contains vector graphics).


              The second thing is: If your Client is not printing to a PostScript device, then EPS is doing him no good whatsoever. When you save/export an EPS file, even if it contains only vector objects, it (usually) includes a low-resolution raster "preview" image that is only intended to display a representation of the content in programs that cannot interpret the content. That's what your client is seeing on his page when he Inserts your EPS into Word.


              Historically, on MacOS, the format of that raster preview was 32 bit PICT; on Windows, it was less-than-32 bit TIF or a Windows Bitmap. The MacOS's PICT, being 32 bit, could use the "extra" 8 bits for masking; so on old MacOS, the preview of an EPS could exclude the "background". On Windows, it couldn't.


              Somewhere along the way, (late 80s) PDF came along. PDF is also a "meta format", in that it can contain any combination of vector, raster, and/or text objects (and nowadays, more). For the sake of discussion, think of PDF as a whole page of some program's native content (Illustrator, Draw, PageMaker, Indesign, whatever) being "captured halfway on its route to the PostScript printer." All those program-specific constructs get "broken down" to simpler and more "ordinary" constructs. PDF has the advantage of its free Reader, with its ability to print decently to non-PostScript printers. Thus, over the years, PDF has become a more robust and convenient "meta" format than EPS for whole pages. PDF has become the defacto standard now as a preferred whole-document delivery format (that is, delivery to the printing house for reproduction).


              And that's still the rub....Graphics programs (InDesign, QuarkXPress, for examples) can import PDF content and place it on the page to be used as a "spot graphic" that can be scaled, rotated, moved about, etc. to position it among the program's native objects. But Word can't do that. Nor can Word "open" a PDF. So in ordinary "office" or "works" programs, PDF doesn't serve as an improved alternate for raster images or more crude vector graphics needed to be used as spot graphics, as it does in mainstream dedicated graphics programs. (In order for that to happen, Microsoft and Adobe would have to cooperate to the benefit of their mutual customers--don't hold your breath.)


              So if your client's purpose is, for example, typesetting a book that has to be delivered in Word format and that will ultimately be printed on a PostScript device, then EPS is still a viable format for that kind of workflow. People have been "living with" the pixelated ugliness of EPS previews on-screen for decades, with the consolation that "it'll look fine in print."


              But if (as is vastly more common) your client merely wants something to use internally, for printing to his own non-PostScript printers or at Kinko's, or for copying/pasting willy-nilly to other Office applications (like PowerPoint), then EPS is unsatisfying because it looks like crap on screen and when printed to non-PostScript devices.


              Meanwhile, though, another 32-bit raster format came along, unencumbered with license restrictions and costs: PNG. In a nutshell, that's why the so-called Save For Microsoft Office command in Illustrator is really just a glorified different interface for exporting a raster image of your AI file in PNG format.


              However, about the time that Adobe started its (in my opinion silly) inclusing of the Save For Microsoft Office "feature" there was a caveat in certain versions of Microsoft Office which prevented alpha masking (the feature of PNG which allows the "background" to be "transparent") from working. So the Save For Microsoft Office command doesn't save with alpha masking. But the PNG export dialog does. So for the most common purposes, just export a PNG of your AI file and turn on the "transparency" feature. Do this in several sizes (name them Small, Medium, Large). Open Word, Insert the PNGs. In the document, write some brief instructions telling the client that he can simply copy/paste the graphics to other Office documents. Format those instructions near the PNGs, so that they serve to demonstrate that the PNGs don't have the unwanted white bounds. He'll be happy.


              function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

              function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}...and the clarity of the vector graphic...


              As for vector, the ugly truth is Office products are very weak in their support for vector graphics; always have been, on both platforms. (In other words, this is not just a "Microsoft thing" as some like to think.) As described above, each OS platform has its own "meta format" that can contain raster/vector/text objects. Word and the other Office programs can and do draw vector objects. But the vector content of those formats is much more crude and limited than the kind of Bezier paths and PostScript-descended fills and other constructs of programs like Illustrator, Corel Draw, FreeHand, et al. On Windows, the vector content is either the older WMF (Windows Metafile) or the newer EMF (Enhanced Metafile).


              You mention a "logo." Assuming a proper logo consisting of optimized paths, flat fills, etc., you may very well do fine exporting the logo as EMF. That will give your client a vector version of the logo that can be handled as native objects in Word and other Office applications. But don't do that without testing first. I don't know how you built the logo--so be forewarned: EMF can't render everything you can do in AI or similar programs. Test, then deliver if everything checks out.


              function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

              function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}...rather than a Jpeg.


              Even if you deliver raster images for your client's internal use, don't use JPEG. Use PNG. JPEG is a lossy compression format. Everytime you save something as JPEG, you degrade it and introduce ugly artifacts. PNG uses lossless compression, and for practical purposes, its file sizes are just as reasonable. PNG doesn't support CMYK, but that shouldn't matter, given the above-assumed uses.



              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                JETalmage-71mYin Level 3

                [Man, this fourm's auto-html coding is messed up!]


                Here's an EMF exported from Illustrator. Screenshot is from Word 2007. Note that it's pathpoints are editable:


                This sample, of course is very simple; just plain stroked, unfilled paths from a drawing I was working on at the time of your post. Fidelity to the original will depend on the nature of the logo artwork in AI. That's why I said test it yourself before delivering.



                • 5. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                  Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                  I would like to correct some info that might be misleading.


                  PDF can now be placed in a word document and exported as such s well.

                  That changed with Office 2004.


                  Here is a placed pdf file in Word


                  Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 10.59.14 PM.png





                  This is an emf file below with effects applied to the objects in AI, notice white boxes made by the effects that the format does not support like transparent gradients and drop shadows.

                  As was pointed out it is a good format but has a limitation, though there might be a work around.


                  Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 11.03.27 PM.png

                  • 6. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                    JETalmage-71mYin Level 3
                    function(){return A.apply(null,[this].concat($A(arguments)))}

                    PDF can now be placed in a word document and exported as such s well. That changed with Office 2004.

                    You can Insert>Object. (Youi're inserting an Ole object). And you can do that even before Office 2004. At least Adobe Reader has to be installed for that to work. But it doesn't address the original criteria: A free-floating vector logo with no "background."



                    • 7. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                      Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                      . But it doesn't address the original criteria: A free-floating vector logo with no "background."



                      What are you talking abut three of the options I gave will them a free floating logo on no background. The vector part is a misunderstanding in your part as they mean a vector generated art that has a transparency which a jpeg does not have and the other formats I suggested do have.


                      This user does not have to alter the logo the logo is designed they only have to have the transparency of the background.


                      You're confusing the issue rather than helping.


                      To the OP you can clearly see there are options. If your client is going to try to alter the art then they probably should invest in ai that is the rational way of going about this if not and they are using it in programs that are like work then they have t use the file formats suggest like png, ai or psd and emf but there are limitations as to what emf supports so if you have effects applied to the logo that will not work for your client.


                      If the logo on the other hand is simple vector then it is a very good format and you can apply the effects in the other programs if they support them.

                      • 8. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                        JETalmage-71mYin Level 3

                        Show us a PDF (not a raster image of a PDF) with no white "background" on a Word document page. List the specific steps & commands you used to import it.



                        • 9. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                          Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                          It is right there just like the placed ai file at the very top.


                          Just as it would pace in ID or Quark.


                          I am afraid one you are behind the times and you simply do not know how to learn.


                          Now allow the OP to benefit from the options and stop acting so disruptive.


                          Insert>Picture>From File as you would do with vector clip art.


                          That is how it is done in Word because. Word supports the PDF format since 2004.


                          Word has limited vector editing and authoring abilities and you know that so?

                          • 10. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                            Harron K. Appleman Level 4

                            Keep your pants on, Wade.


                            Is it possible this is a new feature in Word 2008?


                            I followed your directions and can't get Word 2004 to respect transparency in PDF documents.


                            "Logo" created in AI, saved as PDF, and placed in InDesign:





                            Same PDF inserted in Word 2004 document:




                            While I am usually quite happy to be as behind the times as James, I would very much appreciate your teaching me what I'm doing wrong.

                            • 11. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                              Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                              I no longer have 2003 installed and I think it is not possible to install 2004 on the same computer. But I was pretty sure PDF was introduce in 2004 if I am wrong then I apologize for my memory failure but yes definitely in 2008 there is pdf support.


                              I will check t see if this was new to 2008?

                              • 12. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                Harron K. Appleman Level 4

                                In Word 2003 on Windows, you can't even insert a PDF. I'm so behind the times, I don't have Office 2007, but perhaps Windows users with Word 2007 and 2010 can test and let us know.

                                • 13. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                  Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                                  I still think he is a bit behind the times in his view points.


                                  I should add it would be nice if he gave other people some credit for knowing things that he does not rather than belittle them for seeing things differently then he does.


                                  Might learn there is a whole universe beyond technical illustration.


                                  I think the issue here is what options the OP has and what formats they can use the Op has lots of options not just one.

                                  • 14. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                    Larry G. Schneider Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                    Here's an AI file saved with PDF Compatability inserted into a Word 2008 Mac document. The background is a colored background from Word.


                                    Picture 2.png

                                    • 15. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                      Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                                      So it seems I cannot install Office 2004 unless I install Office X and then the the previous version  that as well and so on.


                                      So I must be mistaken about PDF support in Office 2004 but I believe you can place an .ai or eps file in 2004 the preview may be a little finky but it should print fine.


                                      But again I cannot test this in Office 2004 I am relying on memory.


                                      In Office 2008 this all works fine.


                                      I forgot the EPS format because in the past the display was usually unsatisfactory though it always printed correctly
                                      and eps is not supposed to support transparncy but here you can see it does well in Office 2008


                                      This has be rescaled in Word see how sharp it looks


                                      Screen shot 2010-04-26 at 5.35.50 PM.png


                                      But eps does not support transparent effects like emf the gradients are supposed to be transparent so it has a limitation as well.


                                      Screen shot 2010-04-26 at 5.43.39 PM.png

                                      • 16. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                        JETalmage-71mYin Level 3



                                        Is your client on Windows or MacOS?



                                        • 17. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                          JETalmage-71mYin Level 3
                                          I don't have Office 2007, but perhaps Windows users with Word 2007 and 2010 can test




                                          Windows Microsoft Word 2007 can Insert>Picture neither a PDF nor an AI file. Both can be imported via Insert>Object>From File, as they can be in Office 2003. Both are displayed as an opaque bitmap.



                                          • 18. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                            Fsnorkin Level 1

                                            Hi everyone.


                                            I first want to apologize for posting a question and then disappearing, after posting my husband needed to be taken to the ER and I have been caring for him for the last few days and not getting a lot of computer time.  All is well now.


                                            I also want to thank EVERYONE for such thorough answers and awesome information.  I appreciate the time taken to answer my questions and provide so much information about PDF files and transparencies.  I appreciate the advice to experiment with many different file types and programs.  As someone knew to the graphic design field I see the benefit in experimenting and trying various versions of software and file types.  I also appreciate the expertise and wisdom of all of you who have been in the field for some time.


                                            I like the EPS formats for this particular logo, but I can see where it will be problematic in the future.  This is a very simple logo created in Adobe Illustrator with no extra filters or effects added.   It is very basic, CMYK colors and the customer will be using it in Photoshop and Word and using it for various print projects.  In Photoshop she will be placing it on photos to send to print, as well as in magazines and various print documents and also her website and facebook pages as advertising.  I am thinking that I need to save another format as RGB for her web use as well.  I have already saved her so many different formats already (black and white, transparent, grayscale, full color in AI, JPEG, EPS and PSD) that I feel I am overwhelming her with files.  I wish there was some universal file type that covered it all. LOL


                                            I am going to experiment with the PDF files and Word to see if that is a simpler solution.  I also had forgotten that she could open the AI file in Photoshop, I do have a question with that however,  does it automatically rasterize the image and will she lose image quality because of it?  Any other advice or suggestions based on the project information listed above is GREATLY appreciated!


                                            Thank You again for all the great information.  I wish we were allowed to score point to everyone on our list who provides helpful information! 

                                            I feel there has been some great discussion here that has definitely helped me, and hopefully helps other users in the future!  I feel much better leaping into this graphic design field knowing I have this great support system in this Adobe Forum.


                                            Thanks so much!

                                            Kim McNamara

                                            • 19. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                              Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                                              PDF will open as well in Photoshop or can be placed.


                                              As far as the question if she has Illustrator and Photoshop CS 3 or later she can place or open the ai in Photoshop as a smart object, which will even allow you and here to edit the ai file in Illustrator and it will automatically will update in Photoshop as the psd actually contains the ai file.


                                              You can also export the file from illustrator as a Photoshop file and retain in most cases the layers in Photoshop.


                                              Even here you have excellent choices.


                                              I will do a video showing you Smart Objects in Photoshop.

                                              • 20. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                                Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                                                Here is a video about smart objects the good thing about this is that you can scale the object in Illustrator where it is completely vector based
                                                nd then it updates based on the scaled object instead of scaling from within Photoshop. Very excellent.




                                                Also for the Windows crowd Office 2010 is in public beta and you can download it and answer he question yourself about pdf and ai files.






                                                it is free and I believe it works completely.

                                                • 21. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                                  JETalmage-71mYin Level 3



                                                  Hope your husband is doing well.


                                                  As you can see from this thread, so far as using the graphic in Office applications, much depends on whether your client is on Mac or Windows. Last time I checked, it's about a 24:1 (96% Windows market share) bet he's on Windows.



                                                  • 22. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                                    Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                                                    from the way the OP is responding it seems like they are on a Mac.

                                                    • 23. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                                      Fsnorkin Level 1

                                                      I apologize for neglecting to add that information.  I am using a PC with Window's Vista (yuck) and Adobe CS4 software.  My client is also using a PC with Window's XP and Photoshop and Office, although I am not sure which versions of the software she has.  I will definitely be checking out the tutorial and microsoft office downloads!!  I have Office 2007 which I received from my school, but look forward to checking out 2010!




                                                      • 24. Re: Help Understanding File Formats
                                                        Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                                                        In the case of a Windows based system then pdf will apparently not work and many of the other options I suggested unless you upgrade to Office 2010 beta assuming that also has pdf support.


                                                        But Microsoft did does not make that obvious.


                                                        I would think they would want it for windows since they have it on the Mac.