"But I NEED Tiff images! My art department insists on it!"

Actually, you probably don't need TIFF images.

TIFF images use a "loss-less" compression method that insures each pixel is exactly what it was in the original image. While this is the "gold standard" for graphics exchange, these files can get quite big, especially at large print sizes at high resolution.

JPG images use a form of compression where some information gets "thrown away", so that the pixels are "estimated". This can lead to serious quality deterioration if the compression is very high, or a JPG image is modified and saved again as a compressed JPG image — because the estimation errors and artifacts of the process quickly start adding up.

Most graphic artists are quite aware of the artifacts and blockiness that JPG images can create. So they feel that nothing but TIFF will do. This is, in fact, a misconception.

A moderately compressed JPG image — taken from the original TIFF file — can be virtually indistinguishable from the original. If one does an "A-B" comparison, there can be a very slight variation, but nothing that would make a noticeable difference in the quality of the image for print.

Graphic artists can easily convert JPG files to TIFF files using PhotoShop or almost any image editing program: just open the JPG file and use the "Save As" command as a TIFF file.

Below is a comparison of a detail taken from a B&W image saved as a TIFF file and also saved as a JPG at PhotoShop's #4 JPG compression. Both were re-opened, converted to a 256 shades of gray GIF file -- another loss-less file format which saves all B&W levels -- and re-saved.

If you don't see a significant difference between the two images, then you probably don't need a TIFF version of the graphic -- just open the JPG we provide and save it as a TIFF for your publication program. (While this example is done in B&W, the same principles apply for color.)

Which GIF file had the JPG and which had the TIFF as their source? The answer is below the images.

There may be circumstances that I am not aware of, so please let me know. But -- for the most part -- a rigid need for TIFF source files is merely an "urban myth".

Providing our files in JPG format not only saves our website significant bandwidth charges, but is also compatible with all modern browsers (with the possible exception of AOL if their image compression hasn't been turned off).

Most sincerely,

Louis Jay

[The top image was originally saved as a TIFF file, the lower one as a JPG file. There IS a minor difference in quality, but nothing that would be noticeable in a printed product.]