Logo File Formats Explained

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I often get clients asking me to send them the highest resolution file possible for their logo design.  However, this is not as easy as it sounds.  Contained in this article is Logo File Formats Explained!

Two Basic Types of Logo File Formats Explained

Vector Files

Vector files are typically the type of files that designers and printers use.  Why?  Because they are infinite.  If you remember back to high school math, vectors are infinite lines.  This is how the file is structured.  So with a vector file you generally make it bigger or smaller without any loss of quality.  This is exactly why designers and printers use this format.  Vector files are:  .ai, .cdr, .pdf .eps are some of the popular ones.  However, most people who are not designers or printers cannot deal with these types of files because you can’t just import them into Word or Excel, or attach them to your email.  If you want to use your logo in consumer software then you have to convert it to a bitmap file.

Bitmap Files

Bitmap files are different from vector files in that they are not made up of lines.  They are made up from dots.  So, some of the things you have to take into account are the size of the file and the dots per inch (dot density).  If you have  file that is 100px 100px @ 72dpi and then stretch it big, you’re going to see a very ugly pixellated logo!  Similarly, if you take a 1000px x 1000px 300dpi file and crunch it down to 100 x 100, it’s not going to look crisp and it’ll be distorted.

So what Logo File Format Should I use?

The answer is:  It depends.  Some general guidelines is that if you are using a bit map, you should be at least 72 dpi to display on screens (because the graphics can’t be rendered any higher) and 300 dpi for printed materials.  You should size the file to what you need it for.  Here are some general examples:

  • for use on web as logo = 200px x 75px @ 72 dpi
  • Printing on a business Card 400 x 150 @ 300 dpi
  • For use in Word as a letter head 500 x200 @300 dpi
  • For use on a banner 4000×1500 @ 300 dpi


Colour Profile of Logo File Formats Explained


CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black is typically used for printing.  Your printer will use a 4 colour process to print your logo design.  Their equipment uses these basic 4 colours to print all the colours of rainbow.  So if you are sending your printer a file you want it in CMYK profile.


RGB is Red, Blue, Green.  This is how your computer monitor or TV displays colour.  It uses 3 different colour lights and blends them to display a coloured pixel.  Use this colour profile if you want to display on a monitor.

Web Safe Colours

If you want to display your logo on the web you want to make sure you use web safe colours.  Most browsers use a limited selection of RGB colours to display colours on the web.  There are 256 web colours typically in hexidecimal format.

So what colour profile should I use?

CMYK does not equal RGB does not equal HEX.  It’s not an exact direct conversion from one colour profile to another.  Although your software may do it automatically, when you visually look at the colours you will see there is a difference.  You should work with your designer and ask for a “Branding Guide”.  This is a document your designer will create that picks the right colours that work with your logo design in the different formats.  Producing a Branding Guide is complex task and generally your designer will charge for this.

 If you’re looking for a new or refreshed logo, please contact us for a quote…
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