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What is an EPS File?

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 6/5/2010

Desktop publishing is slowly turning to PDF files and leaving EPS files behind. What is an EPS file? This article explains what it is and how you can use it.

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    What is an EPS file?

    An EPS, or Encapsulated PostScript, file is a graphic file that uses a PostScript document that has additional restrictions. PostScript is a concatenative programming language that is used as a page description language in the fields of electronics and desktop publishing. In essence, an EPS file is a PostScript document that is self-contained and provides a description for a digital image. Graphic editor applications can use this information provided by EPS files to lay out a page even without correctly rendering the EPS file. Graphic format EPS files are considered the best choice for high resolution illustration printing.

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    How do I create, view and use EPS files?

    Graphic format EPS files can be created using desktop publishing illustration and page layout software programs like Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. These software applications save EPS files with the extension .eps. Printer drivers that support PostScript can save or print in EPS format. Usually, EPS files include preview images that will let users view the EPS files without opening them. Even without these preview images, PostScript-enabled printers can still print EPS files. They can always be opened and viewed in full using desktop publishing illustration and page layout software applications. Using EPS files involve dealing with the different layers of the EPS file. Given that it can be embedded in another PostScript file, an EPS file can have several embedded paths that are usually utilized for transparent backgrounds by page layout software applications.

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    Advantages and Disadvantages of EPS Files

    As an actual series of PostScript language commands rather than a simple collection of pixels or vectors, EPS files can accurately reproduce digital images through PostScript printers. This makes EPS files look perfect on paper. The quality of the resulting printed image is definitely superior to printed images based on non-EPS files. EPS files even beat vector graphics when it comes to print quality. Vector graphic file formats can only make sure images with straight lines can be resized without losing quality while the EPS file format makes curved lines re-sizable too without degrading the quality.

    The main drawback of EPS files is the fact that you need to have mostly Adobe products and PostScript printers to work on EPS files. This may not be a big deal for businesses, organizations or individuals who really need these hardware and software to conduct their business, but it still makes EPS files not very accessible to people who are just beginning to explore the world of desktop publishing. If your computer does not support PostScript, that is another downside. The quality that you are seeing on your monitor may not be the same quality of colors and texture that will come out of the final printed product.

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    What's next for the EPS file format?

    What is an EPS file? It's a file that we will probably not see on our computers in the future, that's what. The PDF file format is slowly taking the place of both the EPS file format and PostScript. Pretty soon, EPS will be considered a legacy graphic file format.

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