Depending on your career, you might need to use different file formats. For example, if you’re a video editor, you’ll be mainly handling video files, so you only have to worry about which video formats you should use. However, some careers constitute many responsibilities where you’ll be dealing with various file types and formats.
To help you pick the right file formats at work, we’ll provide five of the most popular ones and discuss when to use them.
Why Should You Use the Right File Format?
There are various kinds of files: documents, videos, images, audios, etc. Each has its own requirement and function. For example, for videos and images, the resolution is most important, unlike with images simply inserted in documents. Moreover, some software supports specific file formats only. By knowing what to use appropriately, you’ll be able to avoid problems at work.
Suppose you want to send a promotional video you finished to someone for review, you’ll need to export and save it in a suitable format to ensure that the high resolution and quality of the video aren’t affected. You find an online tool to convert files Convert.io but choose the wrong file format. As a result, the resolution may be undermined, and no one will appreciate your work.
Five Most Popular File Formats
Here are the most popular image or picture formats used at the workplace:
Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG)
People are often confused with JPEG and JPG. To clarify, these two are the same thing and are interchangeable. It just so happens that JPG was created during the time when file types are granted only three letters. These formats are widely used not just at the workplace but even on social media sites and other platforms. They maintain colors and graphics even when the image is compressed. However, as you save it multiple times, the image will continuously be compressed and lose quality.
Use this when:
- You’re working with online photos and artwork since it’s ideal for web images.
- You plan to print the image. With high resolution and low compression, this format is suitable for editing and printing.
- You plan to use the image immediately because not doing so decreases its resolution as pixelation increases.
Portable Document Format (PDF)
This is a widely used document format in many workplaces because the original document layout is maintained no matter what device type is used to view it. This is extra helpful and convenient for paperwork signing and sharing. Moreover, this format can be emailed, printed, and scanned.
Use this when:
- You need to share important documents and files. PDF can be locked and secured with passwords to prevent others from editing and deleting the document.
- You need to preserve the document format. No matter the viewer’s operating system, the document will retain its format, and the contents will remain intact.
- You need to create a portfolio. You can merge and split documents using this format without disrupting their content, layout, and quality.
Moving Picture Experts Group Layer Four (MP4)
This is a standard video and audio format and is widely used in many workplaces since MP4 is compatible with most mobile and desktop devices. Moreover, this format can be sent, uploaded, and received on various websites and social media platforms. MP4 accurately saves audio and visual information in outstanding quality and in smaller file sizes.
Use this when:
- You want to insert texts on your video, like adding subtitles on videos when uploaded on YouTube for a clearer understanding of the dialogue or scripts presented.
- You’d like to insert 3D objects into the video.
- You plan to share the video across various platforms like Windows and Linux.
Portable Networks Graphic (PNG)
Although this file format saves up to only 256 colors, PNG is a format that supports lossless compression. This means that even after multiple saves and compressions, the detail and color of the image will be retained. Moreover, the size and quality of the image are also maintained.
Generally, PNG supports better text readability compared to JPEG. The best feature of PNG is its built-in transparency. Many graphic designers and artists use this format for making transparent images or those without a background.
Use this when:
- You’re working with an image or illustration with limited colors. PNG is the best choice for images with small color palettes.
- You plan to use the image on websites rather than for printing.
- You’re making a high-quality transparent image such as a logo.
- You need a small file size since PNG can shrink into tiny sizes, especially if there are limited and straightforward colors and texts.
Word Document (DOC and DOCX)
These are standard document formats in all Word processing software and apps that are developed by Microsoft. However, there are slight differences between DOC and DOCX. DOCX is simply the successor of DOC and is the most recent format developed by Microsoft. Moreover, DOC is only necessary for pre-2007 versions of Microsoft Word. Both are editable, but DOCX creates less corruptible and smaller files.
Use this when:
- You plan to work on the document with other people.
- You need a file where comments and notes can be added instead of direct editing.
- You’re making job application materials like resumes and cover letters.
Although numerous file formats are available, it’s best to use the best ones suitable for your work and task specifications. Them being popular means they’re proven to be valuable and efficient to use. But in the end, it will still boil down to what the user prefers. Choose and use the correct format and work productively.