8 Graphic File Formats And the PDF

Here’s a small post about the various file types that ImageShell Resizer (ISR) handles. This list includes the most popular formats on the internet, along with a handful of lesser known formats. The list is in alphabetical order, starting with the BMP.

BMP (Bitmap)

The BMP was developed by Microsoft in the 80s and was at one point quite a popular graphical file format. In recent years though, the BMP has lost its allure, particularly on the internet, due to its size. Of course, it is still in use on every Windows machine, meaning it’s unlikely to disappear anytime soon. However, online, its usage is quite low, currently at 0.2%.

More details can be found here.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

GIF files are also from the 80s, developed this time by CompuServe. The GIF is a file format which at this time, is significantly more popular than the BMP. It’s use on the internet is at around 27%. The popularity of the GIF has also been going down on the internet. At the start of this decade, its use was very close to 70% online. So, though 27% is much, much higher than the BMP, there’s a significant downward trend. Having said that, GIFs have another strength, in that they can be short animations. As such, they are very popular on some social media platforms (e.g. Twitter).

More details can be found here.

JPEG/JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

The JPEG/JPG format, is one of the most popular of pure graphics formats (the first in photography, and second only to PNG files on the internet). Originally conceived by the organisation of the same name, it has its roots in photography, and is now the primary file used in digital photography. Needless to say, it’s also one of the biggest players on the internet with over 70% of all sites on the internet using it.

It’s a compressed format, so that the size of the a JPG file as opposed to a GIF or BMP will generally be smaller. However, it should also be noted that compressing an original image into a smaller JPG will result is some loss of the quality (something which does not happen with many other formats, e.g. PNG or GIF).

More details can be found here.

PBM/PGM/PPM (Portable BitMap, Portable GreyMap, Portable PixMap)

These three file formats were all created by Jef Poskanzer in the 1980s. The first of the three, was the PBM which was created so as to be able to send graphics over the networks of the time without the file getting corrupted. The result is that the graphics held in PBM files are visibly very basic. Later, PGM and PPM were developed. The graphics held within these files are higher quality, though it should be noted that PGM, like PBM is black and white.

More details here on the PBM, PGM and PPM.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

The PDF is now world famous. It’s not really a graphics format as the ones above are, however, it can hold graphics. Its main strength is its reliability along with its popularity. You know that when you send a PDF, what you see is exactly what the recipient will see. You also know that the recipient will be able to open the file! For that reason, people do often convert their graphics to PDF files. It was originally developed by Adobe in the nineties, but Adobe subsequently made it an open format, handing control over to the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO).

More details can be found here from Adobe and from the ISO.


The PNG is currently the most popular graphical file format online at 74.8%. There is no single reason for this, and the popularity is actually, extremely close to that of the JPG. However, one notable difference is the way PNGs can handle transparency. For example, for logo design, PNG is the only way to go, since it will give you a file which looks like it’s not a square (or rectangle). JPGs (or GIFs or BMPs) simply can’t do this.

More details can be found here.

TIFF/TIF (Tagged Image File Format)

The TIFF was created by a company called Aldus (which was later bought by Adobe), again in the 1980s. TIFF files became very popular in the early internet/desktop computing era, for scanned files, faxing and publishing in general. Like the GIF, a TIFF can also contain numerous graphics/pages. On the internet, its use is very low, at under 0.1%. However in the realm of publishing (e.g. where you might want to use CYMK rather than RGB), TIFF is still commonly used.

More details can be found here.