What are file types? Why are they important?

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Anita Richards Designs | Digiscrap 1040 | What are File Types? Why are the Important?Unless you’ve had to deal with using different types of files in the past, either in your work or studies or hobby, then when you first start digital scrapbooking it may be a little confusing trying to understand what is meant when you hear the term “file type”, let alone understand why file types are important. File types are important because they tell various software programs and applications how to handle the information within them. Today’s post is aimed at demystifying one of the most basic functions in computer software.


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A file type is the term for the last part of the name given to a specific kind of file, sometimes associated exclusively with specific software and apps.

For example, a Microsoft Word® document is one type of file with either .DOC or .DOCX on the end of the file name and an Adobe® Photoshop® document is another file type with a .PSD ending … these are just two different file types and there are many others, spanning all sorts of uses in information technology.

Due to the file type ending, aka the file extension, a Word document file can be opened across a wide variety of other software applications within which it is not “native” because that software application recognises the .DOC or .DOCX extension and, therefore, is able to process the data accordingly.

The assumption in that is that the data contained within the file is in fact programmed correctly and is in fact what it is supposed to be … but that is a web safety discussion we will touch on in another blog post.

Quotation Marks LeftOn the Flip Side:
Generally speaking, you can’t open a file that is in a format that is not meant to be used in a software app that it is not designed for and vice versa, if that makes any sense!


Photoshop® image files are the same, and they are limited to a smaller number of software applications that are able to open a Photoshop® .PSD for use.

For our purposes, the most common file types that you can expect to come across in digital scrapbooking are imaging and font file formats.

For example, in the layout featured below:

  • the layered composition was saved out as a layered template in both the native Photoshop® .PSD file formats as well as in .TIF format;
  • the page embellishments (enamel party hat, staples, satin cord, scalloped border) are from .PNG Files;
  • the Kraft paper background and cardstock behind the photos are from .JPG files; and
  • the ornament in the bottom right corner is stamped on the page from an .ABR Adobe® brush file.

Additionally, the photographs were originally taken in .RAW format on the [dslr-camera] used to take them.


Layout: Birthday Boys

Birthday Boys

Birthdays are always big deals for me and every year I tried to ensure that my sons had great birthdays with good friends and family to celebrate with them.

This year things had been a little hectic around the time of my younger son’s birthday as we were shifting house, so we decided to throw a double birthday party near my older son’s birthday.

Loads of fun!


Anita Richards Designs | Digiscrap 1140 | What are File Types? Why are they Important?There are literally dozens upon dozens of different image types and image file extensions that can be used when creating and saving images on the computer. However, below is a list of only a few of the most commonly used file types, and their associated image file extensions that we see in digiscrapping:

  • .ABR Adobe BRush file
  • .BMP – BitMaP image
  • .GIF – Graphics Interchange Format image
  • .JPEG or .JPG – Joint Photographic Experts Group image
  • .PNG – Portable Network Graphics image
  • .PSD – PhotoShop Design image
  • .PSP – PaintShop Pro image
  • .SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics file
  • .TIF or .TIFF – Tagged Image File Format image
  • .XCF – GIMP image


Font files are also pretty important to digital scrapbookers because we just love being able to decorate our pages with elaborate title work. We also love to use decorative fonts for our journaling … some fonts contain only ornaments so these are pretty cool to have in our digiscrapping resource collections also.

For the digital scrapbooker, the two most common font file format type extensions are:

  • .OTF – Open Type Font file
  • .TTF – TrueType Font file

Between these two different font file types the ace in the deck as they say is the .OTF or Open Type font file.

The .OTF format is better because it usually contains all the extra characters and decorative swirls, swashes and special serifs on letters and numbers that make some fonts elaborately decorative.

There is nothing wrong with the .TTF or True Type fonts, however; they are simply far more utilitarian in nature. Although if you need a good solid font for simple journaling then most plain typeface .TTFs will fit the bill.

If you have the choice between installing an .OTF or a .TTF … always go with the .OTF as the first choice.

Anita Richards Designs | Digiscrap 1140 | What are File Types? Why are they Important?Another group of file types that is very important to and frequently used by digital scrapbookers are the archive file types used for downloads … we need those download files to build our stash, eg.:

  • .ZIP – most widely used on Windows and Mac.
  • .RAR – Roshal ARchive
  • .7Z – 7Zip
  • .TAR – Tape ARchive


Anyway, that’s enough with the technobabble for today!

If you want, you can read up more on file formats and file types from these sources:

Lastly … did you like the layout featured in this blog post?

Yes?!? …

Please be my guest and download a copy with my compliments!

Freebie Download ~ Coming Soon





Wrapping things up: all said and done, understanding file types, file formats and file extensions together with the ones most commonly encountered by Digital Scrapbookers and what they do is pretty straight forward really. However, I’m curious to keep track of any new trends and would love to hear from you, especially if you are regularly using different file types? Let us know in the comments below.

This post is part of our Learn Digital Scrapbooking FAQ Series, the complete index for which can be found on the Learn Digital Scrapbooking: Start Here with the FAQs page.



Anita Richards Designs | Digiscrap 1140 | What are File Types? Why are they Important?
When you first start digiscrapping it may be confusing understanding what file types are and why they matter. In this blog we learn what file types are and what they do. https://anitarichards.com.au/digiscrap-1140

Anita Richards Designs | Digiscrap 1140 | What are File Types? Why are they Important?

Anita Richards Designs | Digiscrap 1140 | What are File Types? Why are they Important?

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