by David Blatner
[Note from AM: Many months ago, during one of our InDesignSecrets.com videocasts, I kidded David (Blatner, my co-host) because he still had some graphics in EPS format on his computer. Someone recently wrote us asking why I was making fun of his EPS images, and David wrote a great explanation, which follows.]
The viewer wrote: “Sort of curious as to why Anne-Marie made the comment [in videocast 10] about David having an EPS file. What prompted the remark, “My goodness you have an EPS file on your hard drive!”. Am I missing something about using EPS files with InDesign?”
This has come up enough recently that I feel it necessary to set the record straight: There is nothing inherently wrong with or bad about EPS files. There’s nothing wrong or bad about using Letraset rubdown letters either, and I don’t regret having used them in the 20th century. But that doesn’t mean I want to use either very much today… except in certain very valid situations.
The EPS (encapsulated postscript) file format is a slightly-crusty-with-age holdover from an earlier, more hardscrabble time, when some solution was required to move graphic data from one program to another. The basic idea was, “hey, the stuff is going to end up being printed to PostScript anyway, so why not just envelope it a little file that can be moved from place to place.
But that was then and this is now. There are significanty better options.
When it comes to pixel data (raster images), there are a plethora of better options, including TIFF and PSD. Even Photoshop images with vector data (which is not saved in either of those formats) is best served (and saved) as a PDF. I have not knowingly saved an EPS out of Photoshop for years.
When it comes to vector graphics (such as those from Illustrator), it’s a less-clear landscape. I would use PDF in almost every case instead of EPS. But that comes with a handful of caveats, exceptions, and notes:
That said, EPS has many limitations, including: A. they can be difficult to preview onscreen accurately (requires a software RIP); B. they cannot contain any transparency effects (all transparency must be flattened); C. they rely on a PostScript printing workflow (not always a given anymore); D. they’re typically difficult to change if editing needs to be performed; E. your podcast co-host laughs at you for having them on your hard drive.
Perhaps that’s more than you wanted to know, but I hope that helps explain Anne-Marie’s reaction, and my stubborness. Happy InDesigning!