What's Better? A GIF Or A JPEG?

Description: Pretty much everyone knows that images are available in both GIF and JPEG formats. But which format rules the roost? The answer, as you'll see, is not so cut and dried.

To find our way towards an answer to this question, we should start with explaining what GIF and JPEG stand for. GIF is an acronym for graphic interchange format, while JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. Both of these meanings give us valuable clues as to when each format should be used.

In actual fact, neither one is better than the other overall. It's simply a case of different formats working better under different circumstances.

The graphic interchange format works better, as you would expect, when graphics are involved. It really comes into its own when there aren't too many colors involved. Logos, icons and other drawn or created items often work extremely well when saved as a GIF format.

Many people don't know what JPEG stands for, but the group who gave this common acronym its name developed it to compress photos, thereby making them easier to send, receive and store. The JPEG format is capable of keeping all the original colors in the photo complete and untouched, whereas if you tried to save a photo in GIF format it would lose a lot of the detail and color.

It's obvious therefore that when you have an image to save, the format you should use will depend on the nature of the image. Photos should be stored as JPEGs and graphics should be stored as GIFs.

This applies whether you have downloaded your photos directly onto your computer, or scanned them in instead. It's not the nature of the photo that matters; rather it's the color and level of detail that a GIF format isn't capable of reproducing.

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