design firm question
June 29, 2010 3:01 PM   Subscribe

What file formats should we ask our ordered logo and flyer to come in?

My friend hired a design firm to create a logo and flyer. Part of the contract promises to deliver a logo and flyer in all file formats requested.

What file formats should we ask our ordered logo and flyer to come in?

We would like maximum flexibility to enlarge and reuse the logo in future projects and also would like to be able to rework the flyer elements for future uses.
posted by Mroz to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If they did it in Photoshop, then .psd. Also at least .pdf and .jpg and/or .tif. Some people like to have a .bmp since there's no file compression but others don't like them because they're so large compared to other formats.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 3:04 PM on June 29, 2010

What sort of software do you anticipate using to enlarge/reuse the logo in future projects?

If you're using Photoshop, I'd request something .eps in the least, and .png, .tiff, etc. to be safe.
posted by nitsuj at 3:06 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

EPS and/or Illustrator, because these are vector formats that you can open in illustration tools and modify, resize, etc. Ask for CMYK, if you plan to send any work to print shops.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Erm...I assumed the file would be flat. But if they have the logo in a layered PSD, that would be ideal.
posted by nitsuj at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2010

.ai (Adobe Illustrator) to preserve vectoriness.
I think .eps will do that too, but I believe .ai will keep occluded stuff whereas .eps will only give you what's visible.
posted by juv3nal at 3:09 PM on June 29, 2010

Photoshop handles .PDF quite well. I'd also advise to request the logo as a vector format (PDF, EPS, PS or AI) rather than bitmap so you can transform it to your heart's content.
posted by surrendering monkey at 3:11 PM on June 29, 2010

The more the merrier. Ask for it in EPS, AI, PDF, and layered PSD. It's not more than a few seconds of hitting "save as" in Illustrator/Photoshop, and you'll be future-proofed. (Especially with an AI or layered PSD.)
posted by disillusioned at 3:12 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some basic rules of thumb:

Bitmap images hold very precise details of every single pixel they contain. As a result, you can scale them down but can't make them bigger (because you can't create detail that isn't originally there). If you try to enlarge them, you will get pixelation and/or blurriness. Therefore, request at least 300 DPI resolution and as big as you can possibly get it.

There are two types of formats bitmap images come in: lossy and lossless. Lossy compression is found in formats like JPEG, which reduces the level of pixel detail stored in the file. Instead of containing info on every single dot, a lossy file might only contain approximate details for groups of dots. You'll lose color fidelity and sharpness. Go with a lossless format like TIFF or PNG.

Those statements above assume you have to work with bitmap images. Generally, vector images are better for logos. Vector files are mathematical, containing info on the basic shapes an image is composed of (the locations of vertices, border colors and thicknesses, and the way the shapes are filled. Only certain programs can open vector files because they must take this info and interpret it in realtime, drawing the shapes, to show your picture. However, the advantage is that you can scale the image as large as you want with no loss of quality, and then save that in any format you want. This is highly preferable.

Because vector images are built with basic shapes, they're great for text and line drawings. Not so much for photos. You can convert a vector image into bitmap, but not really the other way around. A "good logo" isn't photographic, usually, and is a perfect contender for a vector format.

Vector formats are Illustrator, EPS, and SVG. I've had a lot of success with the former and latter, and highly recommend them. Inkscape is a great free SVG program if you can't afford Illustrator for opening its proprietary file format.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:19 PM on June 29, 2010

As someone who has had to use logos for many different companies created by many different other companies...

EPS, EPS, EPS, EPS, EPS! When it comes to logos, vector graphics are king as they scale without losing any quality. Pixel graphics (as you would get in Photoshop, JPEG, etc) are used when you have fading or transparency effects but have limited scaleability.

However, you'll probably want to use the logo on web, email etc so PNG & JPG are good too. Just make sure you use the right format for the right task.

And PDF for the flyer (PDF-X4 ISO standard) and a packaged set of files from the page layout application they were using (e.g. the layout file & related image files.) Legally they won't be able to supply the font files so an EPS file with the fonts converted to outlines will help although you won't be able to edit text, just the elements of the layout.

Also, for the logo, it would help if they supplied a variety of colour formats:
CMYK colour for print, RGB colour for web, Black (for single colour work) and white (single colour reverse). They may even design the logo to use a couple of spot colours (eg. using the Pantone Matching System) so you'll want the logo supplied in that colour format too.
posted by i_cola at 3:24 PM on June 29, 2010

For the logo, you want an CMYK PDF file, saved from Adobe Illustrator. All fonts should be turned to outlines. They should save the file with "Preserve Illustrator Editing" option checked.

Why do you want the logo built in Adobe Illustrator or some other vector drawing program? Because it would be a vector logo, which means it could be reproduced at any size and still retain its sharpness. If they can't give a vector version of the logo, either go to another firm and loudly demand a vector logo.

Why PDF? It's format YOU can print from your computer. A lot of people are recommending .eps or .ai, which is fine, but that'll probably leave you, the client, the inability to actually open and look at the logo.

Why CMYK? It's color mode for printing. If it's a another color mode, say RGB, most printers can convert them, but the colors may shift during the conversion.

Why fonts turned to outlines? This makes it uncessary for any to need the fonts if you need to the logo worked on later. Caveat: Ask the designers what font they used and for a copy of it. If they tell you font name WRITE IT DOWN AND EMAIL THE INFO TO SEVERAL PEOPLE, asking them to save them email. Email it yourself and save the email. I can't tell you how many times someone wanted me to use the font from their logo for something, but they didn't know what font it was. This created an additional charge.

We would like maximum flexibility to enlarge and reuse the logo in future projects and also would like to be able to rework the flyer elements for future uses.

What software do you currently have on your home computer? That's the software you want them do, save and transfer the file to you in.

Warming: Most design stuff is done in specialized programs (Indesign or Quark) usually and you need one of those programs to open the file. You need to talk with the designers and tell them that you'd like to be able to edit the file later or have someone else do. They may tell you to get lost if you want flyer made in Word, I certainly would. If so, then you'll need another designer later to work on the files. Be sure and ask for all art and fonts and the file used to create the flyer. Ask for two CDs of all the elements and the file. Upon getting the CDs, immediately burn two more copies of the CD. Keep the original copies as your masters, put them somewhere safe. Lend out the copied CDs to whoever needs to do work on the file. Never ever, ever less than 2 copies of the CDs and I'd recommend 4. You don't want to lose your company logo, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:27 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

At least one vector format (.ai, .eps) and at least one bitmap format. (.tif, .psd)

Generally speaking, if you're looking to enlarge the logo on later materials, you'll need a vector-based artwork, as bitmaps don't upscale well.

Unless you're working on a website right now, I wouldn't bother with .jpg or .gif, as they're easy to mess up. If you need a web logo later, either the vector or bitmap logos can be converted with a minimum of fuss.

Keep a clean, unmodified copy of all logos. Only modify copies. I cannot stress this enough.

As for the flyer, ask for a native file with all links and fonts in addition to a press-quality pdf.

The key here is that data can be subtracted form a document, but cannot be added without undesirable consequences. For example, you can take a 300 dpi .jpg and reduce it to 72 dpi, but if you try to enlarge a 72 dpi .jpg to 300 dpi, you'll have problems.
posted by lekvar at 3:29 PM on June 29, 2010

People above have your logo covered. Getting it Vector is most important (it is the most can blow it up to tradeshow size without any loss of resolution).

For the flyer ask for a high resolution PDF **and** the original file with all supporting elements (so if they created it in InDesign, for instance, it would be the InDesign file, the image files, and the fonts). If you don't have the right program you won't be able modify it but you can still have access to the images as separate files. You can then decide if it is worth it to buy the program to rework the files or hire a freelance / intern with the appropriate program for the variations/new pieces you want.

On Preview: What i_cola said about legality of fonts is true, though I'm not sure where the legality entirely rests...I mean when a file is packaged for printing the fonts are always included for the printer and they are supposed to use the fonts for that purpose only and then dispose of them. Asking for the print archive, it seems to me, would be legal. That way you can reprint it as is without needing to involve the design company. To make variations you'd buy the appropriate typefaces if you don't already own them.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 3:32 PM on June 29, 2010

For the logo, you want an CMYK PDF file...
Why CMYK? It's color mode for printing.

Actually, if the logo was originally created using spot colors, printers prefer to have the spot-color data remain in the file. But this is a good point. If the logo was originally created with spot colors, get that file and a CMYK version.
posted by lekvar at 3:32 PM on June 29, 2010

posted by yoyoceramic at 3:35 PM on June 29, 2010

Good point lekvar!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on June 29, 2010

For the logo: EPS and/or AI are the preferred file formats if it vector art (and for lord's sake, it had better be.) Forget SVG. No one uses it. It's primarily intended as a web format, anyway. Again, no one uses it.

From EPS and AI, you can generate any necessary bitmap file format, at any size necessary. Vector files are highly scalable. CMYK files, please.

If the logo is not vector, first chastise the artist. Then, request a layered cmyk .PSD file. That will be your master file. From that, you can generate any other bitmapped image file to about any size you need (if the PSD file was created correctly.)

For the brochure, if it is intended as a print-ready piece, a press-optimized PDF is preferred.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:17 PM on June 29, 2010

That should be a high-resolution .PSD file. 300dpi, minimum.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:40 PM on June 29, 2010

Basically you want the originals because you can edit these if you ever need to in the future. Get vectors if possible because they are infinitely scalable. After that, get whatever else you need.

The logo:
1. The original. This will either be the vectors (.ai or .eps) or the photoshop file (.psd).
2. Print version. The bigger the better. I usually use .tif for this but if it is big enough .jpg is fine too.
3. Web version. Optimized and compressed .jpg or .png.

The flyer:
1. The original. This could be any number of formats, depending on what it was made in.
3. Print and web version. .pdf
posted by cirrostratus at 8:36 AM on June 30, 2010

- original working file (illustrator (AI) or photoshop (PSD))
- print-ready vector (encapsulated postscript (EPS) or PDF)
- print-ready lossless bitmap at 300dpi (PNG and TIFF) (MS Word can't insert a PDF directly)
- web-ready bitmap with opacity (optimized PNG is probably best)

- original working file (illustrator (AI), indesign (INDD), or whatever)
- print-ready vector (EPS or PDF)
- web/attachment-ready vector (optimized PDF)
posted by Chris4d at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2010

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