In The Wonderful World Of Scanning, Should .jpg Or .tiff Formats Be Used?

What is .jpg And .tiff?

If you are going to complete a scanning project yourself, your scanner will eventually request that you designate what file format the final scan should be in.  Both .jpg and .tiff are file types.


What are the major differences between the two?

.jpg files are smaller, this file type is extremely common and easy to edit. One of the major drawbacks of .jpg is they are considered temporary – so if you open a .jpg, make an edit, and resave it - each save results in a small amount of luster being lost.  It is important to know that that the small amount of sparkle that is lost….it is extremely small and one would need to resave an image many many times before noticing anything.


.tiff files are much larger, this file type is common, many programs will edit them and they are considered to be a permanent file.  The major drawback to the .tiff is the file size – and finding organizations that will produce print outs from a .tiff.  What we mean by a permanent file is that you can modify a file in .tiff format…and it will NOT lose its sparkle when the image is resaved.


What do we recommend?

.tiff file formats are superior – they are typically sharper and a permanent file.  HOWEVER, we recommend .jpg.  Why?  .jpg file format is so common….you can almost call it vanilla.  Anybody who prints will use this file type.  You can walk into a Walgreens, they will print out a .jpg….but Walgreens can not print out a .tiff. 


The individual completing the scan may be a techie and completely comfortable with larger file formats -- and comfortable with the more elite status of a .tiff.  Question:  Are the other users of the end product comfortable with large files?  If you asked your Mom obtain her own print of a .tiff format, could she do it?  If you are extraordinary and your images are extraordinary – maybe .tiff is right for you – Otherwise, .jpg all the way.



Again, there are entire websites dedicated to this topic.  If you are a PhD student and want to add more technical info about this topic – please don’t send it.  This White Paper is only meant to be an introduction and provide basic guidance.