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Getting Strated Scanning...
Part 2: Saving Your Scans

Saving for the Web or Email
For images going on the Web, you'll want to go with either GIF or JPEG. (Continued below...)


 More of this Feature
• Introduction
• Part 1: DPI for Email & Web
• Part 2: Saving Your Scans
• Part 3: Printing Digital Photos & Scans
 
 Join the Discussion
"I'd like to archive all of my old photos by scanning and then burning them onto CD-R disks. Since I don't know what I might want to do with them in the future, I'm not sure what resolution to scan them at."
- Kim
 
"What file format (e.g. JPG, BMP, etc.) should I use to produce the best viewing results both on the internet and on the CD-R?"
- Joe P.
 Related Resources
• Digital Imaging & Scanning
• Scanning Tips
• Scanning Software
• Web Graphics Formats
• Prep Your Photos for the Web
 
 From Other Guides
• The DPI Dilemma
• Scanning Line Art
• Scanning Basics
• Resolution Inch By Inch
 
 Elsewhere on the Web
• A Few Scanning Tips
• Saving Scans
• Scan Basics: File Formats
 

And because these formats can be viewed by anyone with a Web browser, they are also the best choice for sending images via email. The general rule is to use JPEG for photographic images, and GIF for images that have text, sharp lines, or large areas of solid colors. It's important to strike a balance between the smallest possible image size and highest possible image quality, so you may want to do some additional reading on GIF and JPEG and the best ways to optimize each.

If you plan to do any editing of the image prior to putting it on the web, you'll want to save it to an uncompressed format while you're working on your image and only save it to GIF or JPEG as the final step before putting it on the Web. GIF images are limited to a palette of no more than 256, and JPEG images lose quality each time you edit and re-save the image.

When sending images by email, never send a non-standard format, unless you know the recipient has software that can read that format.

Saving for Later Editing
For images you want to edit, it's best to save as either TIFF, PNG, or BMP (bitmap). Saving as a TIFF or PNG will result in a smaller file size because they use a compression scheme that does not result in a loss of image quality.

If you're sending the image over the Internet to someone else for further editing, PNG is probably the best choice since you'll get the smaller image size, and they'll be likely to have an imaging program that supports that format. BMP files tend to be quite large in file size, and I don't recommend using it unless you're sure your recipient does not have an image viewer other than the Paint program that comes with Windows. TIFF files can often be compressed quite small for sending via e-mail attachment by compressing them into a zip file.

Saving for Archival
For photographs that you've completed the editing process and you want to archive, you'll probably want to save as JPEG to conserve disk space. If you think that there is any chance that you might someday want to perform additional editing to the images, save them at the highest quality setting for JPEG, and use the same quality setting each consecutive time you edit the image. If you have the storage space, an even better solution would be to archive the images in a lossless compressed format such as those mentioned in the section above.

It is also highly recommended that you save a second copy of your working files in the native file format of your image editing software. Many people also find it useful to archive a copy of the original, unedited scan or photo.

Saving for Print
Scanning for print is a topic unto itself and you can read more about that in the next section, Printing Digital Photos and Scans. However, the information presented here regarding file formats is just as applicable to images intended for print.

To review:

  • Save photos for the Web and email as JPEG
  • Save line art, simple drawings, and graphic text as GIF or PNG for Web & email
  • Avoid using GIF and JPEG for master copies of images you intend to edit later
  • Keep working copies of your files in addition to the unedited original and the final edited version.

--> Continue to Part 3: Printing Digital Photos and Scans

Further Reading...

Saving Scans
JPEG, TIFF, or BMP - Learn which file format is the best to use when saving your scans.

Scanning Basics - Image File Formats
TIFF, JPEG, GIF, and PNG comparisons and descriptions.

More About Scanning

More About Graphics File Formats

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