What does PNG Stand for?

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PNG stands for portable network graphics. You’ll sometimes hear people refer to this common file type as a “ping.”

What’s the Difference Between PNG and JPEG File Types?

While similar to a JPG/JPEG, the main difference is that PNGs are better for displaying graphics that need crystal clear text or transparency. For example, you’ll typically want to export logos and icons as PNGs.

The Best Time to Use a PNG

Typically, you’ll need a PNG file type if you have a web image that needs to have a transparent background or fade. You might also want to save a detailed design as a PNG to keep its image quality sharp (assuming file size isn’t an issue).

How to Make a PNG

You can export your design as a PNG out of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. We use Illustrator more often when creating PNGs because designs that require transparency are typically text-focused. In general, Illustrator is the better program for designing with text.

Making Design Changes to a PNG

If you save your file as a PNG, it is a raster file. You will not be able to put it back into Illustrator to do any editing. If you need to make changes to your PNG file, you’ll have to edit it in Photoshop.

Advantages to Saving Your Design as a PNG

Aside from the obvious benefit of having an image with a transparent background, PNG files have several advantages.

Perks of PNG files:

  • Transparent or faded background
  • Good image quality 
  • Can scale without becoming blurry
  • Wide color depth

Image Compression with PNG Vs. JPEG

The compression ratio does not affect PNG files, which means you can make them larger without losing image quality. On the other hand, JPEG files have issues with lossy compression where image quality is sacrificed to decrease file size, making images look blurry.

Best for Sharp Logos, Graphs, and Icons 

PNG files support palettes of 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA colors, grayscale images, and full-color non-palette-based RGB/RGBA images. Since PNGs don’t create visual distortion, they are ideal for graphics with sharp edges and solid colors.

Disadvantages to Saving Your Design as a PNG

If you want to animate a design or turn it into a GIF, the PNG file format won’t work for you. It also doesn’t support non-RGB color spaces like CMYK, so you wouldn’t want to print out a PNG. Finally, it won’t allow you to embed file metadata such as copyright information, author name, etc.

PNG Pitfalls:

  • Large file sizes
  • Can’t be animated
  • Doesn’t support non-RGB color spaces
  • Can’t embed file meta-data

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