TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

You may have heard of TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) or have seen the file extension .tiff. What is TIFF?

TIFF is a file format for storing images and is commonly supported by image editing applications. It was designed for scanning paper documents in the mid-1980's in attempts to manage volumes of paperwork in the legal industry and to find a common scanned image file format.

In general, image file formats have an image header with set fields or "tags" that contain information such as dimension or color space specification that pertain to the image. The TIFF file format is different in that it includes you a set of tags that you can customize to hold application specific information.

For instance, TIFF tags allow for a wide range of different compression schemes and color space specifications or can be used to format multiple images within a single file. TIFF makes it possible for almost any information to accompany an image. The flexible quality of the TIFF format makes it ideal for photographers and publishing industries that use desktop publishing and imaging applications.

The Tagged Image File Format’s imaging is based on bitmap images (images constructed from a grid of boxes coloured in, resulting in a matrix of bits known as a bitmap image or raster graphics). The TIFF image can, thus, also contain a picture of a document.

This characteristic was exploited as the format was generally utilized to exchange raster graphic images of documents between application programs. In other words, TIFF, as a precursor of the PDF format, served the same portability purposes PDFs do today.

Converting TIFF to PDF

The parallels between TIFF and the PDF occur because of their similar abilities to act as a "container" format for images, data etc. However, the TIFF has its disadvantages when being used for the same “container” purposes of a PDF.

Because the TIFF image is a picture of a document, it can contain images or pictures of text. Yet, it can't be electronically searched without OCR technology. Extra scanning, saving and loading is needed in order to obtain word searching capabilities - TIFF files have to be linked to a database first. Moreover, even if TIFF was used for exchanging textual information, zooming in for better readability would produce poor quality imaging.

tiff zoomed in

One most notable drawback of the format is that there is a minimum amount of development of the format and as such, the format lacks support for more advanced imaging features developed over the last couple of years. Thus, TIFF is no longer ideal or adequate for distributing converted documents.

Reasons for choosing PDF over TIFF: the smart choice

You may want to convert TIFF files to PDFs because they're more efficient to work with. One major advantage is that the PDF format stores objects such as text, which allows for an efficient full-text search in an entire archive.

Also, PDF technology captures images and graphics based on vector graphics (vector graphics are images that are enhanced by using"dot" matrixes instead of "bits"). Resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch)-the higher the number, the closer the dots are, providing a more visually clear image instead of a bitmap image's "gritty" look when zooming is increased.

vector zoomed in

The smaller file size generated by PDF is especially advantageous for electronic file transfers (e-mail attachment, FTP etc.). PDFs have built in compression technology that allow for large graphics to be more compact and to be transmitted faster.

For the above reasons, PDF conversion software is a must-have tool in most electronic workflows, as it provides quick solutions to switching to more appropriate formats when needed. Users wishing to try out smooth and quick TIFF to PDF conversion can use Investintech’s Able2Extract, a high quality tool for creating and converting PDF files.