The Ultimate Breakdown Of Design File Types

Graphic Designer Files

As a design and branding specialist I always try to take the best possible care that I can of my clients. From the brand building workbook - which I use to learn about my client’s business, help them identify and define their brand identity, and learn about their goals - to meetings - where we discuss the project and their brand strategy - to design and revision of their custom materials, I really take the time to get to know my client, their business, and their needs.

One of the things I always ensure that I do is provide them with every file and color format they may need for branded items. It’s amazing how many times I’ve run into clients who worked with designers who didn’t properly educate them about the file types they would be receiving, or worse their designer didn’t give them all the files they would need to properly use their branded materials across different media.

I am always shocked by my clients who have had these bad experiences! As a brand strategist, I partner with each and every client to create an identity that is special and unique to their business. I want my clients to get every file format they may need. I want to make sure they can send a vector logo to their ad agent or printer or have a JPG for social media. I want their brand and the work we put into the design to be properly represented.

I remember the first time I ran into this was an email signature design. It was a few years ago at a job I had – I was asked to fix someone’s email signature, but they didn’t have the original file. I reached out to the company that made it and they flat out refused to send us the artwork! Apparently in their contract it stated that the artwork belonged to them, not the client, so they were the only ones who could make changes. It cost a minimum of $50 to get one single change. I was blown away. I had never not given someone their native files. Consequently, my boss decided to no longer work with that company, and from then on, we made all the signatures in house.

This is a breakdown of all the files I give to my clients and what each file type is for. Depending on the project some of these may not apply, however my clients will always receive the native design files. Once work is completed those designs are theirs to use however they see fit.


AI files are the native design files for most of my designs. I use Adobe Illustrator for most of my work, which creates vectors. Any logos, icons, or patterns I would make using Illustrator.

-          A vector is not made from pixels and can be enlarged without losing its quality.


Encapsulated Postscript, or EPS, files can contain vector and raster images. EPS files can be opened in multiple programs and are an easy way to transfer your artwork to other programs or designers. EPS files will have a transparent background.

-          A raster is made up of pixels and will lose quality when it’s enlarged.


PDF files are vector based, but can be opened without Illustrator, although they will not be editable in a PDF reader. A high-quality PDF is a good file to send to printers.


PNG file types are raster images which usually have a transparent background. PNG’s are good for use on the web, paperwork/presentations, or when you need a transparent background.

.JPG (or .JPEG)

JPEG files are raster images that you are probably familiar with. JPEGS are made from pixels, do not have a transparent background, and can easily be used on the web, social media, or placed on paperwork and presentations.


This is a Photoshop file. I will sometimes use photoshop for creating templates. You will need Photoshop to open and edit this file.


This is an InDesign file. If I layout a book or magazine this is the software I would use, and this would be the native file. You would need InDesign to open and edit this filetype.

When you work with a designer you should be sure to ask about what types of files you’ll be receiving when the project is complete. I have run into clients who in the past worked with designers that only provided them with JPGs or PNGs and they were left disappointed when the image couldn’t be scaled without losing its clarity. You will definitely want to at least have the native design files. That way, if you work with a printer or ad agency in the future you will have a vector version of your logo, signature pattern, and any icons associated with your brand. Vectors can be scaled to any size without distortion, so you won’t have to worry about your designs appearing fuzzy or illegible.

Be careful in your selection of a designer. You may think that just a JPG of your logo is fine to start, but as your business grows your needs will change. Always work with a designer who understands that and provides you will files that can be used in any situation.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you had experiences where a designer would not give you their native design files or found yourself without a file type that you needed? Please share your thoughts and comments below and follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from Akari Design Studio!