PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (2022)

With so many image file formats available—BMP, EPS, JPEG, PNG, and GIF to name a few—how do you determine which is right image format for your email? Each format produces variances in file size, compression, and quality. To make things more confusing, support for specific file types can also vary between email clients. In this post, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of four popular file formats for email: JPEG, GIF, PNG, and SVG.

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JPEG images (short forJoint Photographic Experts Group)are “full-color images that dedicate at least 24 bits of memory to each pixel, resulting in images that can incorporate 16.8 million colors,” and are frequently referenced by their file extension, JPG.

JPEGs are also “lossy,” meaning they retain all color information, but compress file size by selectively discarding data—and that compression can result in a loss of quality. In most design programs, you can choose the degree of compression you wish to apply to individual images—just be aware that by doing so, you also will alter the image’s quality. As a result, if you choose the maximum quality option, your image will most likely be indistinguishable from your original photograph, albeit with a correspondingly larger file size.

PROS

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (2)

24-bit color w/ up to 16M colors

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (3)

Great for photographs

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (4)

Great for images w/ more than 256 colors

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (5)

Great for making smaller file sizes (usually)

CONS

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (6)

Discard a lot of data

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (7)

After compression, JPEGs tend to create artifacts

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (8)

Cannot be animated

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (9)

Doesn’t support transparency

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (10)

Not good for text images

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (11)

Not good for images with sharp edges

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“Lossy”

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As stated in the chart above, JPEGs are great for photographs and images with lots of colors. However, JPEGs are probably not the best option for images containing text. Here is a snippet of text saved as a JPEG:

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However, JPEGs are probably not the best option for images containing text. Here is a snippet of text saved as a JPEG:

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (14)

By way of contrast, here the same text captured as a GIF (we’ll get to GIFs next):

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As you can see, the text is much clearer in the GIF. Artifacts (the little bits of “fuzz” in the space around the letters) in the JPEG cause the text to look blurry or dirty. Here’s the same example zoomed in:

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As Cripsen.org explains, “these little grey artifacts are part of the way JPEG compression works. The very thing that helps make photographs look more realistic at high compression sticks out like a sore thumb when you save a text or clip art image as a JPEG file.” If large headlines look that bad, can you imagine how illegible smaller copy might get?

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and is “one of the file formats used to display indexed-color graphics and images in HTML documents on the web.” This means that a GIF will only display a maximum of 256 colors; as a result, GIFs are great for images with simple illustrations and blocks of colors, like logos and icons, but probably not the best option for photographs.

PROS

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PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (17)

Supports transparency

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (18)

Can be animated

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (19)

Great for images with limited colors

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (20)

Great for line drawings & clip art

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (21)

Great for text images

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (22)

“Lossless”

One of the major benefits of GIFs is that they preserve transparency, which means that you can use image-editing software to select colors in a GIF image’s color palette to become transparent. This allows you to put a GIF over a colored background, or even a photograph, and you won’t see a border around the image. Check out the example of our logo as a transparent GIF set against a white background and a dark background:

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However, GIF transparency is not selective. This means that if you make a color transparent, that color will become transparent in the entire image.

Another benefit of using GIFs is that they support animation, which is an increasingly popular technique in email design! Check out this great animated GIF from Jack Spade:

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (28)

Using PNG in email, Portable Network Graphics, offers a wide range of attractive features, including “a full range of color depths, support for sophisticated image transparency, better interlacing, and automatic corrections for display monitor gamma. PNG images can also hold a short text description of the image’s content, which allows Internet search engines to search for images based on these embedded text descriptions.”

PROS

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (29)

“Lossless”

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (30)

Smaller file sizes

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Great transparency support

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Great for text images

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Great for logos

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There are two types of PNG formats: PNG-8 and PNG-24. The PNG-8 format is similar to GIFs in the fact that they are saved with 256 colors maximum. The PNG-24 format is able to display millions of colors, but also comes with a larger file size. When using PNG in emails the rule of thumb here is to choose whichever format is an appropriate balance of color and file size for your particular needs.

PNGs are also capable of producing background images without jagged edges. While they can be used for photographs, PNGs typically have larger file sizes than JPEGs since they use lossless compression.

A negative of the using PNG in email is that they are not supported by early versions of Lotus Notes. In the email below, you can see how only the PNGs are disabled, while JPEGs and GIFs render just fine:

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SVG, Scalable Vector Graphics, is an image format for vector graphics. Unlike JPG, PNG, and GIF format images, SVG images are just plain text documents that describe the lines, shapes, and colors that make up the image. As SVG files are plain text documents, they can be easily manipulated on the web using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. SVGs also are resolution independent. They look sharp on any screen, while at the same time keeping file sizes low.

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PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (39)

PROS

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (40)

Scalable and responsive

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (41)

Accessible

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (42)

Small file size compared to JPG, GIF, and PNG

CONS

PNG, GIF, or JPEG? Which is the Best Image Format for Email? - Litmus (43)

Limited support across email clients

The biggest con of using SVG images specifically for email is, unsurprisingly, a lack of support. iOS devices and Apple Mail offer a good level of support for SVG, but where it’s missing is from Gmail, Outlook, and international webmail clients. If the majority of your subscribers open your emails in Apple Mail or an iOS device you could start experimenting with SVG. Learn more about SVG in email, including an overview of SVG support across email clients, with the basics of using SVG in email by Anna Yeaman of StyleCampaign.

WHICH FORMAT IS BEST?

Unfortunately, there is no right answer. You need to determine which file format is most appropriate for the content of that image. If you’re looking to include animation, the GIF format is the obvious choice. Need your photographs to retain their detail and color? Go with a JPEG. To recap:

JPEG File Format

  • Great for images when you need to keep the size small
  • Good option for photographs
  • Bad for logos, line art, and wide areas of flat color

GIF File Format

  • Great for animated effects
  • Nice option for clip art, flat graphics, and images that use minimal colors and precise lines
  • Good option for simple logos with blocks of colors

PNG

  • Lossless
  • Excellent choice when transparency is a must
  • Good option for logos and line art
  • Not supported everywhere

SVG

  • Great option for high-quality images at low file sizes
  • Support limited to email clients on iOS (with only a few exceptions)

The best tools for judging which image format looks best are your eyes—andLitmus, of course! Preview how your emails (and images) render in dozens of popular email clients with Litmus Email Previews.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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FAQs

Is JPEG or PNG better for emails? ›

While JPEGs are perfect for photos, they're not an ideal choice for logos, graphics, or text. PNGs, on the other hand, provide a clear, crisp option for all three. Plus, if your logo or graphic has a transparent background, PNGs will allow you to use that image in your email.

Which is best JPEG PNG or GIF? ›

JPEG works best for storing full-color images full of complex shading and color variation. PNG is mostly superior to GIF, as it is newer, supports more colors, and is free of patent restrictions. PNG cannot be used for animation, but offers highly sophisticated transparency and color support, among other features.

What is the best picture format for email? ›

JPEG (JPG)

JPEG images (Joint Photographic Experts Group) are the most common format used for photographic images in email and online. JPEGs can incorporate millions of colours, but can still be contained in relatively small file sizes.

Which is best JPEG or GIF? ›

JPEG is far better for photographs, while GIF is great for computer generated images, logos and line-art with limited palettes. A GIF will never lose its data. It uses lossless compression. It uploads quickly since these files are usually low resolution.

Can I send PNG file on email? ›

Here's what to do:

Create a new document in Microsoft Word. Paste in the content for your email. Drag the PNG into the Word Document.

Can I email a JPEG file? ›

How to Send a JPEG File - YouTube

Is PNG better than JPEG? ›

The biggest advantage of PNG over JPEG is that the compression is lossless, meaning there is no loss in quality each time it is opened and saved again. PNG also handles detailed, high-contrast images well.

Which image quality is best? ›

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is commonly used by shooters and designers. It is lossless (including LZW compression option). So, TIFF is called the highest quality image format for commercial purposes.

Which picture format is best? ›

JPEG: This is an ideal image format for all types of photographs. PNG: This format is perfect for screenshots and other types of imagery where there's not a lot of color data. GIF: If you want to show off animated graphics on your site, this is the best image format for you.

What is JPG or PNG format? ›

PNG format is a lossless compression file format, which makes it a common choice for use on the Web. PNG is a good choice for storing line drawings, text, and iconic graphics at a small file size. JPG format is a lossy compressed file format. This makes it useful for storing photographs at a smaller size than a BMP.

What's the difference between a JPG and a JPEG? ›

Summary. As you can see, there is no difference between JPG and JPEG. JPG simply arose from a three-letter file extension limitation with earlier versions of Windows or DOS. You can convert your photos to both JPG and JPEG to take advantage of the small file size and vibrant colors since they are the same type.

What are email images called? ›

JPEG, GIF, EPS, BMP, PNG, PSD etc. – the list of file formats for graphics could be continued for a long time. The image formats differ, e.g. in file size, compression and also display in common email clients. The most common formats for designed HTML mailings in email marketing are JPG, GIF and PNG.

What is GIF PNG and JPEG? ›

Use JPEG format for all images that contain a natural scene or photograph where variation in colour and intensity is smooth. Use PNG format for any image that needs transparency, or for images with text & objects with sharp contrast edges like logos. Use GIF format for images that contain animations.

What is the difference between a JPEG and a GIF? ›

JPEG and GIF both are a type of image format to store images. JPEG uses lossy compression algorithm and image may lost some of its data whereas GIF uses lossless compression algorithm and no image data loss is present in GIF format. GIF images supports animation and transparency.

What is a PNG file used for? ›

The PNG file format is widely used on websites to display high-quality digital images. Created to exceed the performance of GIF files, PNGs offer not just lossless compression, but also a much broader and brighter color palette.

What is the advantage of using PNG GIF PDF format in saving your document than .JPEG format? ›

PNGs are often higher quality than a JPG. This is because PNG files were not intended to reduce file size, so they retain more image detail, color detail, and information than a JPG. Much like JPG files, PNG files are widely viewable and shareable across many platforms and programs.

Can I send PNG file in Gmail? ›

Choose As attachment to send the photo as an attachment. To upload an image from your computer, select Upload > Choose photos to upload and open the desired graphic.

What does JPG file mean? ›

jpg or . jpeg) stands for "Joint Photographic Experts Group", which is the name of the group who created the JPEG standard.

Can you send JPEG on Gmail? ›

By default the option to embed JPEG images into an Gmail message is disabled. However, this option exists within Gmail's Labs, which is a collection of special features and add-ons for customizing your Gmail experience.

How do I save a picture in an email as a JPEG? ›

How to Turn Your Outlook Emails into a Picture or JPG Image - YouTube

How do I email a large JPEG file? ›

Simply drag and drop the large file into Google Drive, right-click the file and click share. Next, type in the email address of the person you wish to share the file with. Click “Done” and voila!

When should I use PNG? ›

Portable Network Graphics files (PNGs) are compressible and like JPEGS, can handle 16 million colors. They're mostly used for web graphics, logos, charts, and illustrations, rather than high-quality photographs, because they take up more storage space than JPEGs.

When should I use JPEG? ›

JPEG is ideal for low resolution and medium quality images used mainly on websites, social media and photo sharing. Most digital cameras, including smartphones, save images as JPEG.

Why is JPEG still used? ›

Besides, because JPEG 2000 fully meets the data-compression requirements for digital cinema, e.g., high dynamic range, color spaces, high image resolutions, and lossless compression, JPEG 2000 is the format of choice for digital-cinema operations.

Is JPEG high quality? ›

In general, PNG is a higher-quality compression format. JPG images are generally of lower quality, but are faster to load. These factors affect whether you decide to use PNG or JPG, as does what the image contains and how it will be used.

Is JPEG low quality? ›

JPEG images use a lossy compression algorithm. This algorithm trades quality for compression. A low-quality image results in a smaller JPEG file; a high-quality image generates a relatively large file. This is different from lossless image formats, such as PNG, BMP, and PPM, where the quality never degrades.

Is JPG low quality? ›

JPGs are destructive to image quality because this file type doesn't preserve every pixel of color within an image, and the more you save it the lower the quality. JPG is also particularly hard on text—especially small text.

When should I use a GIF? ›

Use GIF when your graphic uses a relatively low number of colors, there are hard-edged shapes, large areas of solid color, or needs to make use of binary transparency. These exact same rules apply for 8-Bit PNG's. You can think of them almost exactly like GIF files.

Is PNG high resolution? ›

png is a lossless compression file type, which means it can withstand compression into smaller sizes without sacrificing image quality. The high resolution of the original is maintained throughout the compression process, and once the image is unpacked and reverted to its normal size, the quality is the same.

What is the best format for a newsletter? ›

As a general rule, it's best to start your newsletter formatting with a fixed width instead of a fluid/liquid layout. If you don't know the difference, this article should clear it up. This will prevent horizontal scroll bars, which pop up when you don't use the full width of the screen.

How do I send a PNG file in Gmail? ›

Gmail on the web: Compose a message, and then drag and drop the picture from your computer to the desired position in the email. Or, position the cursor where you want the image to appear, select Insert Photo > Inline, then choose your photo and select Insert.

What is the advantage of using PNG GIF PDF format in saving your document than .JPEG format? ›

PNGs are often higher quality than a JPG. This is because PNG files were not intended to reduce file size, so they retain more image detail, color detail, and information than a JPG. Much like JPG files, PNG files are widely viewable and shareable across many platforms and programs.

Is the type of image format that is an excellent choice when transparency is a must and good option for logos and line art? ›

Using PNG in email, Portable Network Graphics, offers a wide range of attractive features, including “a full range of color depths, support for sophisticated image transparency, better interlacing, and automatic corrections for display monitor gamma.

How do I send a JPEG in Gmail? ›

Attach a file
  1. On your computer, go to Gmail.
  2. Click Compose.
  3. At the bottom, click Attach .
  4. Choose the files you want to upload.
  5. Click Open.

How do I send Photos to email? ›

Email Using an Android

Open the photo app on your phone. In the photo gallery, long press each photo you would like to share until it shows as selected. A dot (or a check mark) will appear in the corner. Tap the Share icon and choose your desired email.

How do I put an image in an email? ›

Insert a picture into the body of an email message

Position your cursor where you want the image in your message. Select Insert > Pictures. Browse your computer or online file locations for the picture you want to insert. Select the picture, then select Insert.

Why do you think JPEG is the most used image file format? ›

JPEGs offer you the most flexibility with raster editing and compression making them ideal for web images that need to be downloaded quickly. You want to print photos and/or artwork. At high resolution files with low compression, JPEGs are perfect for editing and then printing.

Which image quality is best? ›

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is commonly used by shooters and designers. It is lossless (including LZW compression option). So, TIFF is called the highest quality image format for commercial purposes.

What is the highest quality image? ›

RAW files are the highest quality image format. They are loved by photographers as RAW format records all data from the sensor of the camera. Since RAW is an uncompressed format, it gives immense creative liberty to the photographers during post-processing.

Which picture format does not lose quality? ›

tiff) TIFF or Tagged Image File Format are lossless images files meaning that they do not need to compress or lose any image quality or information (although there are options for compression), allowing for very high-quality images but also larger file sizes. Compression: Lossless - no compression.

What is the most used image format? ›

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group image)

The JPEG (typically pronounced "jay-peg") image format is currently the most widely used lossy compression format for still images.

Which is better PNG or JPG? ›

PNG is a high-quality graphics format – generally higher in quality than JPEGs, which are compressed to save space. The PNG format uses lossless compression and is generally considered a replacement to the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF format).

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