Many of the new IDs I work with seem
a little confused and pretty overwhelmed by all of the different file types in eLearning. I get it! PNGs! JPEGS! SVGs!
I get it! There are countless acronyms, and it can be confusing to know which type of file to use, when, as well as what program creates which.
While everyone’s process will be a little different, there are a few different graphic file formats I tend to use most with my eLearning development work, and I’ll walk you through those in this lesson.
0:48 - PNG
1:25 - JPEG
2:06 - GIF
2:50 - SVG
3:22 - EPS
3:50 - Other File Formats
Before we get going, please know that this is not an all-encompassing list. Also, we won’t be discussing video or audio file formats today, as we’re honing in specifically on graphics in this mini video course.
This stands for Portable Network Graphic. This is a type of image that uses transparent or semi-transparent backgrounds, so it’s perfect for logos and layering. I find myself using PNG as my go-to image type, simply due to the crisp, high-quality result it produces. To get that effect, PNGs use something called lossless compression, which means they retain all of their original data when compressed. That means higher-quality output, which is great—but also a larger file size, which can lead to slower loading times.
This stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This is a graphic file type used namely in photography and web publishing. Unlike PNGs, JPEGs have solid backgrounds, so they can be trickier to work with when you’re creating layered compositions. JPEGs are great for everyday graphics that don’t require transparent backgrounds or super-high quality. They use something called “lossy” compression—which means that in order to keep image size small, the file will lose some original data along the way. That means JPEGs can lead to faster loading times—but also, a lower quality output. Keep that in mind.
This stands for Graphical Interchange Format. These file types are often used to share short clips of movies or movement. GIFs are essentially a series of still images strung together to create a small scene—similar to a flipbook animation. Like PNGs, GIFs are also saved in a lossless format, meaning no image quality is sacrificed when its saved. Again, this leads to larger file sizes and slower loading times. GIFs are popular in today’s meme culture, but they also have some applicability when it comes to eLearning design, especially for basic animation.
This stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. Vector graphics rely on coordinates on a plane rather than pixels, which means they don’t lose resolution when they’re scaled up. SVGs are great to use in projects with responsive design, as the output will look crisp no matter how large the screen. You can modify vector graphics using PowerPoint, which we’ll talk about later in this course, but only if they’re converted to .SVG file types first. That makes this file type a very useful one for folks without an additional vector-image software, such as Illustrator or Inkscape.
This stands for Encapsulated PostScript. This is another vector graphic file type, which can be universally accessed by almost all systems and software. It’s often used for large-scale print projects (such as a billboards), but you’ll also find these file types when you download vector packs, which we’ll talk about in the next lesson. Vector graphics are highly valuable for LXDs, because the various components can be easily recolored and reshaped to suit the needs and palettes of our projects.
There are also a few types that don’t exactly pertain to the scope of this course, but they’re still worth mentioning.
TIFFs - Stands for Tagged Image File Format. This is another graphic file type, mostly used for high-resolution scans or photography. Because I typically source stock photos online for the work I do (as opposed to shooting photos myself), I really don’t find any use for this file type.
And while I said I wouldn’t dive into video or audio, just so you have this on the record: MP4 and .MOV are video file types and MP3s or .WAV files are used for audio.
Hopefully this is a pretty good overview of the common types of file formats used in instructional design and eLearning!