PNG vs JPG vs PDF: Which File Format Should You Use

Images come in many shapes and sizes, and every image format has its particular strengths and weaknesses. No format is designed to accomplish the same tasks. Two of the most common (and commonly confused) file formats are JPG vs. PNG.

Below, we’ll break down the much-discussed comparison of PNG vs. JPG so that you know how to use each. There’s also PDF and TIFF, which is in another class from these usual image formats, but can still perform a few similar functions.


The JPG format was developed by Joint Photographics Export Group, which is where the file name comes from. You’ll commonly see JPG expressed as JPEG, and functionally they mean the same thing. In the older days of computers, file types had a character limit of three (hence JPG), but JPEG is now becoming more common.

Pronounced “jay-peg,” JPGs are designed to minimize the file size of photographs to make them more suitable for sharing and using in web design. Most of the photos you find online are likely in JPG format.

What’s a JPG-Large?

A more recent file extension, called a JPG-Large, is simply a larger version of the JPG file. While not commonly used, JPG-Large files are sometimes seen when uploading images to social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter. In an attempt to resize the uploaded image to the correct dimensions on the platform, the file may change to JPG-Large instead.

If you’ve encountered a JPG-Large file and are unable to open them, simply rename the file to .jpg or .jpeg over the .jpg-large extension.

Advantages of JPG/JPEGs

Smaller File Size

This is the huge advantage of JPG images. If you’re designing a website, for example, utilizing JPG images will get you faster page load times and provide a better user experience because the files are smaller.

When you first save a JPEG file, the rate of compression is about 10:1. So, if you have a 20MB (megabyte) image that is then saved as a JPEG, you can expect the file to be 2MB in size. Resizing images to smaller file sizes with free image resizing tools is a quick shortcut.

Widely Shareable and Viewable Online

Since JPG images are a common file type, they’re easily shareable and viewable online. This eliminates the need for any program required to view the image file.


PNG is an acronym for “Portable Network Graphics,” and the image format is indeed optimized for graphics like graphs, logos, and text. However, you can just as easily save a photograph as a PNG.

PNGs are often higher quality than a JPG. This is because PNG files were not intended to reduce file size, so they retain more image and color detail, and information than a JPG.

Much like JPG files, PNG files are widely viewable and shareable across many platforms and programs. Search up an icon on a web browser and you’ll likely find a .png file version of that icon.

Advantages of PNGs

Lossless Image Quality

The compression used when creating PNG results in no loss in quality, so the image can be saved, edited, and opened again and again without degrading over time. This is directly at odds with a JPG file, which will further compress and lose information every time it’s edited or re-saved.

Transparency Features

One of the biggest advantages of PNG files is their ability to showcase transparency, making this file extension ideal for icons, logos, and smaller graphics that require transparency. The gray checkered background you often see in PNG images before downloading them indicates the transparency of that file.


PDF files are not typically discussed when weighing options for image files, but you may need to convert PDF files to and from PNG or JPG formats. The Portable Document Format (PDF) is the industry standard for document sharing, as it creates an exact replica of any file you want to duplicate, including images.

While you wouldn’t want to use a PDF image to upload online or in official brand design, they’re useful for emailing and storing screenshots and other images combined with text documents or photographs.

Advantages of PDFs

Reliable and High-Quality

PDF files look identical to the original design or photograph, serving as a copy of your image. PDF files are ideal for file sharing, and carry the assurance that your graph, photo, or document will display correctly across devices without being altered.

Ideal for Interactive and Print Designs

PDF images are extremely customizable, allowing you to export images and documents, and optimize them for printing and sharing. The superb quality is ideal for designs and documents that will ultimately be printed as opposed to living online, like esta ferramenta online. When preparing a design for print production, saving as a PDF enables the design to remain high-quality and print at various sizes.

In addition, PDF files are ideal when creating interactive documents that require any form inputs or button clicks. Programs such as Adobe InDesign allow for exporting designs into an interactive PDF file.

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