What is a vector file?

What is a vector file?


If you are not in the advertising, marketing, website design/development or graphic design fields you probably have never heard the word vector before. But when you are asked to share a logo file with a third-party printer or media company they might ask for one and your response might be:

What is a vector file?

A vector file is a type of file that can be scaled without loss of any detail. You can make the size as big as a building and the lines are still crisp and clear.

File types that are vector are Adobe illustrator files (.AI) and encapsulated script files (.EPS).


Scaled vector file

This is an example of a scaled vector file (.EPS) that was scaled 300 times the actual size. The lines and type are still crisp.

Scaled image file

This is an example of the same logo scaled 300 times but was an image file (.PNG) of the logo. When the logo is scaled up, the image becomes pixelated.

Are JPGs and PNGs vector?

The short answer, No.

Although you can have high resolution files, image files are compressed and flattened file types. When you make these files wider and taller than the size they were made at, they become pixelated, blurry, and often text becomes illegible.

Image resolution is determined by how far from a printed piece or digital billboard you are. Always ask for specifications when providing files to ensure your design and marketing will look its best.

A good rule of thumb is that you can always make an image smaller but resist the urge to stretch an image or make it larger than the size it was created. You are losing detail and the result might be visibly pixelated.

Tara Joy Andrews

ILLUSTRATOR / Graphic Designer

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