Have you received lots of email from people who embed HUGE graphic attachments?

The thing is, I have noticed since my days as a desktop publishing pioneer in the 1980s, that many people today STILL do not know how to optimize their graphic files. For example, I still see super huge, uncompressed TIFF files sent by email, rather than compressing such TIFF files in the LZW algorithm, or better yet, simply using the JPEG format. Likewise, there are many creative folks who insist on sending .ai (Adobe Illustrator) files, which many of us don’t use (anymore), or care for.

Here are some tips for you if you want to endear yourself to your mail recipients:

1) For bitmap graphics, such as photographs, it is more bandwidth-friendly to send RGB JPEG files, rather than LZW TIFF. In all circumstances, don’t send uncompressed TIFF unless you intend to bring down the bandwidth of your recipients. Also, remember to convert your JPEG color space to RGB as many people can’t see CMYK JPEG (the colors seem “reversed”).

2) For vector graphics, not everyone has access to the likes of Adobe Illustrator and therefore, cannot see your .ai files. If you must send vector graphics, send .eps (encapsulated Postscript), or better yet, PDF files. Many modern operating systems today (including Mac OS X and Linux) can read PDF files easily, and there are tools which allow PDF to EPS conversion.

3) For bitmap graphics, remember your TARGET dimensions. For example, if your image is intended to be published to 8 inch by 11 inch (US Letter) size, do not send a JPEG (or TIFF) which is 11 inch by 17 inch size, since your recipient will resize it down and you are merely wasting everyone’s bandwidth. If your recipient will only use your graphic in 4 inch by 5 inch, you can send your images with slightly over the intended size.

4) For dpi (dots per inch) calculations for bitmap graphics, remember your TARGET dimensions as well. For example, newsprint publications require smaller dpi files than super high quality magazines. Therefore, if you are sending bitmap graphics for newspaper editors to use, you can target your files to around 200 dpi. If you are targeting your graphics for a typical color magazine, you can target your files to 300 dpi or 4oo dpi. You do not need to send files that are 600 dpi to 1200 dpi because the intended publications can’t make use of the extra bits anyway. If you are sending graphics merely for an online magazine, you can just send graphics of 100 dpi, since modern monitors range from 72 dpi to 96 dpi.

So, the next time you intend to send graphics (bitmap or vector) to others for publication, think about bandwidth utilization, and do your bit to save your recipients from frustration. They will appreciate your efforts.

Copyright(c) 2011 Seamus Phan. All rights reserved.