What unique benefits does the EPS format provide?

Reading this excellent question regarding logo export formats, and it made me want to ask a question that was a little bit more narrowly focused than that one.

I know when to use a GIF and when to use a JPG, how to optimize certain raster images for certain scenarios. But I feel like the only reason I ever use EPS is because “that’s what you’re supposed to do,” which isn’t really a good reason.

So, what is the purpose of an EPS format? What does it do that AI, PDF, and SVG formats do not?

In my experience, non-technical people don’t need EPS files, they need JPEGs and GIFs and maybe PDFs. Other designers will almost certainly be able to handle an AI file, and can definitely handle a PDF. For the Web, SVG and PDF make more sense.

The printing realm is one where I’m really not that experienced, so I can’t speak to that.

Is this a legacy thing? A compatibility thing? Something for the Quark crowd? Or is there a real benefit that EPS brings that other formats can’t do? Would anyone in the audience be hurting if he or she could no longer export to EPS?


EPS is “Encapsulated PostScript,” which pretty much gives you its origin and its purpose. It’s a legacy file format that permits a visual representation of PostScript code.

The only benefit of EPS today is that it’s theoretically usable by any vector graphic application, no matter how old, and by legacy equipment such as older computer-controlled engraving machines. I say “theoretically” because EPS files exported from Illustrator or Corel aren’t necessarily as compatible as they are supposed to be, because of subtleties in the underlying code. Slightly corrupted EPS files can create mayhem with InDesign and other applications.

PostScript itself has long since been overtaken by advances in technology. It can’t handle transparency, to take one major example, so any layout that contains transparency effects must be flattened, which means rasterizing anything underneath. That’s why we used to need Distiller, which is far less used today.

It used to be that all printers’ RIPs required PostScript (and, therefore, flattened artwork). That is no longer the case. Modern RIPs support later PDF formats directly, maintaining transparency and avoiding the problems that flattening involves. (Not every shop has upgraded, though, so it’s still a good idea to check.)

PDF superseded EPS as a Portable Document Format (ahem) a long time ago. It is more flexible, more useful, and except in a very few edge cases such as the ones I mentioned, for professional purposes EPS is unnecessary and best avoided.

Source : Link , Question Author : Brendan , Answer Author : David Richerby

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