Are we speaking the same language? Graphic design lingo

06 Aug Are we speaking the same language? Graphic design lingo


Often times when I’m talking to a client and I say something like “vector file” or “eps file” or “CMYK” I get this blank look. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m speaking a different language- a “designy” language- that most people can’t understand! I’ll decipher some of my language for you here!:

CMYK and RGB– To put it simply, CMYK is a color mode you use for print, and RGB is a color mode you use for web or for when someone is viewing graphics on a monitor. CMYK is the color mode you’ll want to use when sending files to your printer for items such as brochures, business cards, wedding invitations, etc. RGB is the color mode you’ll want to use if you’re putting graphics or logos on your website, facebook page, etc. For Screen = RGB. For Print = CMYK.

PANTONE– Graphic designers assign pantone colors to logos to ensure that the color looks the same whether it is viewed on the computer or in print. Pantone offers a standardized color key to keep your color consistent and often times you’ll want to give your printer your pantone color to ensure it looks right.

VECTOR FILES OR EPS FILES- These terms mean pretty much the same thing. These are the files that you’ll want to use to have the best quality. They can be resized as large as you want them without losing any quality or making them appear pixelated. Chances are you won’t be able to open this file type if you don’t have Adobe Creative Suite, but that’s ok, your designer or printer will be able to open it and this is the file type they need you to send them to create high-quality graphics.


JPEG or JPG or JPGs- This is probably the file type you understand best. JPEG/JPG/JPGs= same thing. JPEG is the full word, JPG is what you will see as the file extension, and JPGs is used when referring to multiple images. All computers can open JPEGs and most programs can use them. Many photos are saved as jpg. You can’t place this file on top of a graphic, because they are all saved with white backgrounds. You can’t make a JPEG too much bigger than it’s original size, because it will become pixelated.


PNG FILES-All computers can open PNGs and most programs can use them. You can save PNG files with transparent backgrounds (yay!) so you can use this file type to place one image on top of another without getting the white box. Like JPEGs, they will pixelate if expanded too large.


RESOLUTION or “RES”- Resolution basically refers to the quality of the photo. If a graphic designer asks for a “high res” graphic, they’re probably referring to a vector graphic. If they tell you your file is too “low res“, it probably means you gave them a jpeg or png file that isn’t large enough to suit their needs and will appear pixelated in the final product.

PIXELATED- Below shows an example of a pixelated logo


DISTORTED- It makes me cringe when I see people distort their logos. So I’m going to tell you a quick tip. If you need to resize your logo, please please PLEASE hold down your shift key and drag it from the corner to resize. Do not, under any circumstances, “eyeball” it. Holding down your shift key makes sure your logo will stay proportionate.



When I deliver logos, you will get a lot of files because of all the differences discussed above! Reading this guide will help you know which ones to use when! When you receive your logo files, they’ll be packaged similar to the picture below. I know it can be confusing!

The files will go something like >Logo Library >Different Color Modes >For Print or for Screen >Logo Type (full logo, icon, etc.) >.eps file, .jpg file, .png file

I’ll also put a “quick view” in there just so you can quickly see what your logo looks like without digging through all the folders



Anything else?

Just let me know if I don’t make sense to you when I’m talking! I often feel that way at the doctor’s office. It’s ok to ask if you don’t understand something I say, I’ll still love you =)