Help! A vendor asked me for my logo's vector file.

No worries. If you’ve hired a professional to create your logo, chances are you already own these files. It’s just a matter of finding the file with the appropriate file extension. I’ll go over the possibilities in a sec, but first …

What does “vector file” even mean?!

Vectors are files where the elements are rendered through mathematics. To put it even more simply: two points in space and a line that connects them. The great thing about this kind of file is that you can resize them to your heart’s content, without altering the image quality. Blow it up for an outdoor? Check. Have it printed on the side of a pen? Double Check.

Hang on. Math? Aren’t all visual files vectors, then?

Not really. There is another type of file that is everywhere and it uses another type of math—which I personally see less as math and more as “paint by numbers”. These are raster files, and they are used to render all the pictures in the internet. You can always make these types of files look smaller without loosing quality. What you can’t do is make them larger. That is why most designers will tell you they can’t use the jpeg image taken in 2006 by a phone camera on a poster. There just isn’t enough information in that file to be able to make it any larger than that little square you see on you screen.

So, what is the easy way to know if a file is a vector file or not?

Look at the extensions (those 3-or-so letters after the period). If it ends in “.ai”, “.eps”, or “cdr” you are golden—take your shinny vector and run with it (even if you can’t preview the file, rest assured your vendor will be able to). However, files ending in “.jpg”, “.png”, and “.gif” are a no-go. You might want to consider hiring a designer to help you.

Files ending in “.ai”, “.eps”, or “.cdr” are vector files. 

About the author

Designer and communicator with over a decade of experience working for a broad range of corporate and non-profit clients in Brazil and the United States.
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