Training - Print

What Is a ‘Vector’ File, and How Does It Differ from a ‘Raster’ File?

Insights What Is a ‘Vector’ File, and How Does It Differ from a ‘Raster’ File?

Understanding the needs of printed training manuals and eBooks
In the world of printing, digital design and eBook publishing, understanding the difference between vector files and raster files is useful. These two file formats serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics that impact their usability and versatility. So let's explore what vector files and raster files are, discuss their differences, and highlight their respective advantages and applications. We will also cover the issue of printing and eBook file requirements, not so much the text which can be quite low resolution but the images and tones of a logo.

Raster vs Vector explanation

What is a Vector File? A vector file is a digital image format that uses mathematical formulas to define shapes, lines, and colours. Instead of relying on pixels, vector files use points and paths to create scalable and resolution-independent graphics. You will recognise the file types by the suffix .SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), .AI (Adobe Illustrator), and .EPS (Encapsulated PostScript).

Advantages of a Vector File:

  1. Scalability: Vector graphics can be enlarged infinitely without any loss of quality or resolution. This is because the shapes are defined by mathematical equations rather than fixed pixel values. As a result, vector files are ideal for logos, icons, and designs that need to be resized for various applications. They are also essential for printing to promotional products and for the logos used in a training manual


  1. Editability: Vector files are highly editable, allowing designers to manipulate and modify individual elements easily. Shapes, colours, and sizes can be adjusted without affecting the overall quality of the image, making vector files flexible and versatile for design projects.


  1. Small File Sizes: Vector files are typically smaller in size compared to raster files. This is because they store mathematical formulas instead of recording every individual pixel. Smaller file sizes make vector graphics more suitable for web use and faster to load.

Applications of Vector Files: Vector files are widely used in various design applications, including:

Print materials like brochures, business cards, and banners – and of course training manuals.

Logos and brand identities

Illustrations and icons

Signage and large-scale graphics

What is a Raster File? A raster file, also known as a bitmap image, is composed of individual pixels, small dots which make up the image. Common raster file formats include JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. Raster images are resolution-dependent, meaning their quality is determined by the number of pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI).

Advantages of Raster Files:

  1. Photorealistic Detail: Raster files excel at capturing complex and detailed images, such as photographs or realistic digital paintings. The vast array of colours and shading provided by individual pixels allows for intricate visual representation of tones.


  1. Image Effects: Raster files support various image effects like filters, blurring, and shading. These effects can be applied to enhance photographs or create artistic manipulations.

Applications of Raster Files: Raster files find their applications in various fields, including:

eBook publishing- because a screen ‘sees’ lower resolution

Web graphics and social media posts

Digital art and illustrations

Printing photographs

Differences between Vector and Raster Files:

Scalability: Vector files are infinitely scalable without any loss of quality, while raster files may lose quality and appear pixelated when scaled up.

Editability: Vector files offer greater flexibility for editing individual elements, while raster files are more challenging to edit without compromising image quality.

File Size: Vector files have smaller file sizes compared to raster files, making them more suitable for web use and faster to load. Although an eBook is screen based, and therefore requires less resolution (DPI), the vector file will by definition load more quickly.

Resolution: Raster files are resolution-dependent and can lose quality when enlarged beyond their original dimensions, while vector files are resolution-independent and can be scaled without loss of quality. Hence their use in web based graphics



Understanding the difference between vector files and raster files is crucial when working with digital graphics. Vector files provide scalability, editability, and small file sizes, making them ideal for logos, icons and printed materials. On the other hand, raster files excel at capturing photorealistic detail and supporting image effects, making them suitable for photographs and digital work such as eBooks and web sites. By choosing the appropriate file format based on your specific training needs, you can ensure the best results for your projects and optimise the visual impact of your graphics. If you have any doubts then contact PDI and we can talk through what is best for you.



By: David Platt