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Vector Images

When possible, it is better to use placed vector images than pixel images:

  • Illustrator files ending in .ai
  • PDF files ending in .pdf
  • SVG files ending in .svg

Vector images are composed of paths that are drawn mathematically:

This has important benefits:

  • the image can be enlarged indefinitely while remaining perfectly sharp
  • the filesize is much smaller than a comparable pixel image

There is one important limitation to be aware of:

It is not possible to use placed hybrid images (vector and pixel)


Adobe Illustrator Files

Adobe Illustrator files offer the most flexibility.

They have one significant advantage over the other vector formats:

option-double-click to edit the original file

This substantially accelerates the workflow, because placed content can be edited without leaving Illustrator.

Note: there are certain aspects of Illustrator files that do not function correctly when placed, including transparent gradients and links. See Unsupported Techniques for more information.


PDF Files

PDF files behave the same as Illustrator files except that editing them requires extra steps.

It is important that the PDF not contain bitmapped elements or other content that is not supported by the SVG format.

PDF files are useful when sharing common resources with team members who may not have access to or experience with Adobe Illustrator.


SVG Files

Placing an SVG file pastes the SVG contents directly into the destination document without creating a link to an external file.

Modifying the SVG after placing in Illustrator will not update the Illustrator file.

For this reason, it is preferable to open the SVG and resave it as an Illustrator file, then to place the Illustrator file in the destination document.


Pages in this section:

  1. A Folder Called Links
  2. Pixel Images
  3. Vector Images
  4. Embedded Images

Next Steps sections:

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