Difference Between JPEG and PDF (With Table)

JPEG and PDF are two different types of file extensions that are used to store data like images and texts and so on. They are very effective for internet use and can be transferred very easily and quickly if their sizes are small.

Also, the fact that there are different types of Computing devices like PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. demands that the images or texts sent by a particular device should appear the same in the receiving device. It is in this context that file extensions like JPEG and PDF are used.


The difference between JPEG and PDF is that JPEG is primarily used to compress and transfer digital images. PDF on the other hand, is used to send text, images, fonts and all other forms of information that are required to be displayed as a part of the concerned file’s content.

A jpeg pronounced as ‘jay-peg’ is a type of file extension used for sending web page visuals and still images. It is the short form for Joint Photographic Experts Group and was launched in response to the limitations of Graphics Interchange Format (gif) files.

A pdf, on the other hand, is the shorter version for Portable Document Format. It is pronounced as ‘pee Dee eff’ and is used for sending files that contain worded material as well as graphic images.


Comparison Table Between JPEG and PDF (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonJPEGPDF
Created byResearchers of International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).Research and Development team of the Adobe Systems.
Used forSending web page visuals and still images.Sending texts, images, 3D objects, digital signatures, encryption and other data formats.
Image sizeCompressedNormal
Image qualityLowHigh
PrintingUnsuitable for printing.Suitable for printing.


What is JPEG?

It is a format of the file that is mainly used to compress the size of images, especially graphic images. It is pronounced as “jay peg” and is the shorter version for Joint Photographic Experts Group. The process of its creation started in 1986 and by 1992 it was ready to be launched as the standard for image files.

JPEG is based on the discrete cosine transform (DCT), an irreversible image compression process first put forward by Nasir Ahmed in 1972. It was introduced as an alternative or rather as an advanced version for GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) files.

Unlike the GIF standard that is useful for only black and white images or those having a few colours and plain graphics, the JPEG standard can contain more than 16.5 million colours in an image. Also, unlike GIF that can compress an image only by a factor of 4 to 1, the compression capacity of the JPEG format is 100 to 1.

 As a result of its introduction, digital photos and images created a roar across the internet as it helped in reducing their sizes which in turn made them extremely suitable for web design e.g. images used e-commerce websites or social media.

However, there is a major drawback of using images of JPEG format, especially for printing. Since JPEG is used for compressing images, it often leads to a loss of quality of the concerned image. This happens because the JPEG format works by reducing the colour variations to an average level and getting rid of those elements of an image which is not visible to the human eye. Consequently, if an image of JPEG format is enlarged, it appears blocky and that makes it extremely unsuitable for printing.


What is PDF?

It is a format of the file that is used for sharing documents containing worded materials, images, bit maps and fonts among different types of computing devices. It is pronounced as ‘Pee Dee Eff’ and is an acronym for Portable Document Format.

It was produced in the early 1990s by a Research and Development team of Adobe Systems. The team was headed by the co-founder of Adobe Systems, John Warnock and the name of the R&D team was Camelot. It was introduced in January 1993, at the Windows and OS|2 Conference. It was launched in 2008 as an open standard.Before that it was available as a proprietary format.

 Apart from graphics and texts, PDF can be also used to send annotations, videos, 3D objects and whatnot. It can contain several pages and file attachments and offers facilities for digital signatures and encryption to carry out important projects, assignments and other important workflows smoothly without any tension about the appropriate hardware, software or operating system to be used for such data transfer.

One can enlarge a PDF file without getting worried about losing the quality of the images and texts contained in it. Apart from its versatility, the most remarkable feature of a pdf file is that the images contained in it are of very high quality and even customisable which makes it very suitable for printing.

Main Differences Between JPEG and PDF

  • Both JPEG and PDF formats of file can be used to send graphic images. But the images send in PDF formats are of higher quality than that of JPEG standards.
  • The JPEG format is used for sending images after reducing their size. While the PDF format is used for sending images of normal standard.
  • The JPEG standard was produced by a group of researchers working in the International Organisation for Standardisation. Whereas, the PDF format was produced by an R&D team of the Adobe systems named Camelot.
  • The JPEG format is not as versatile as the PDF format. This is because unlike a PDF file, it cannot contain texts, embedded fonts or paths.
  • One can edit the texts and images or other forms of data contained in a PDF file using software. But this is not possible in case of a JPEG file due to the compression of its components.



People often find themselves perplexed seeing terms like JPEG and PDF in the description of the web pages. They do not know the meaning and purpose of these terms and consequently remain confused about the exact software to be used for opening and sending them. Even those who know about these file extensions are often confused about their suitability for transferring or printing image files.

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the JPEG format is mainly used for compressing images and therefore is more suitable for web design. The PDF format, on the other hand, is used for sending images of normal standard. Consequently, it retains the quality of the original images which is also customisable. This feature of the PDF makes it the ideal format for printing images.

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