A Unit of Institutional Advancement
Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format developed by Adobe Systems. PDF captures formatting information from a variety of desktop publishing applications, making it possible to send formatted documents and have them appear on the recipient's monitor or printer as they were intended. To view a file in PDF format, you need Adobe Reader, a free application distributed by Adobe Systems.
Is it web viewable? Yes
When would I want to use it? When you need visitors to download a printable form or have documentation with combined text and images, such as MS Word documents, etc. Since Adobe provides a free reader to view PDFs, visitors will always be able to view this format (unlike MS Word - which is a paid for program).
Tagged Image File Format (TIFF or TIF) is a file format for storing images, popular among graphic artists, the publishing industry, and photographers. It uses lossless compression which permits you to edit and resave without any data loss.
Is it web viewable? No
When would I want to use it? For submission of high quality images to printers, etc.
Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG) is a compressed image file format for photographic images. It works best with photographic images of realistic scenes, but it does not work well for line drawings, text, or iconic graphics. Since it uses a lossy compression, each time an image is edited and saved, it loses some of its data, gradually leading to pixelization. It does not support transparency.
Is it web viewable? Yes. This is probably the most widely used format photos on the web.
When would I want to use it? For non-transparent photographic images on the web.
Graphical Interchange Format (GIF) is a compressed image file format for images with limited colors, such as line drawings, iconic graphics, etc. It does not work for photographs because it lacks the color range need for high-quality photos. GIF supports transparency so the image can blend with the background, but the pixels must be either fully transparent or fully opaque (i.e., all white pixels can be set to transparent while the other colors are full opaque).
Is it web viewable? Yes. Used for icons, headings, etc.
When would I want to use it? When you need a fully transparent background on a graphic.
Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a lossless bitmap image format. It stores images of greater color depth and supports partial transparency (pixels don't have to be fully opaque or fully transparent as in GIFs).
Is it web viewable? Yes.
When would I want to use it? When you need either full or partial transparency on a graphic or image.
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is a standard graphics file format for exchanging images, drawings, or layouts of complete pages. It can contain any combination of text, graphics, and images (both vector and bitmap).
Is it web viewable? No.
When would I want to use it? When you need to be able to edit the layout, etc. of a drawing, poster, etc. Usually this is done in Adobe Illustrator.