What is a vector file?

Vector files are scalable design files that don’t rely on pixels to present an image. On your screen, images are displayed in two different ways.

  • Raster files like .JPEG and .PNG use pixels or tiny squares of color that, when seen from a distance, combine to form an image.
  • Vector files like .EPS are made up of points plotted on a grid and the shapes that result from them.

Here is a real world example. A 32 pixel by 32 pixel circle that’s displayed on your screen is literally made up of 1,024 tiny squares. If you try to expand that square by scaling it larger, the pixels that make up the square will also get larger and start to create anti-aliasing or pixelation. Pixelated images look blurry to the eye.

What is a vecctor file? A chart showing a vector and a raster circle scaled 800%.

A vector circle, on the other hand, is made up of the 4 points at the top, bottom, left, and right extremes of the shape. When you scale the circle, the four points that make up the shape scale in relationship to one another.

No matter how much you scale a vector image, it will always look sharp.

Now you can see why vectors are the file of choice for logos. Your logo can scale down to be as small as an instagram profile pic and scale up as large as a billboard. To be that fluid, it needs to be vector.

Most folks don’t have access to a system like Adobe Illustrator, which lets you manipulate and export vector files into pixel ones. But, if you’re working with a designer to create a logo, it’s important to ask for an editable PDF and EPS files. Both of those file types are based on vectors and will let future designers import your logo into their work.

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