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TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)


The Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) is a flexible and portable standard graphics format. It was developed by Microsoft and Aldus (later Adobe) at the beginning of the 80s.

The TIFF format is equally suited to store both b/w copies and high-resolution sketches or colour images. Through its standardisation TIFF files are displayable on all common computer systems (Windows-PCs, Linux, Apple Macintosh, Digital, IBM RS/6000 and so on) without special extra software.

An A4 document in the quality of a colour print in the TIFF format only uses approximately 45 kB of storage space. In this way, a couple of million A4 documents can be digitally archived on a basic up-to-date standard computer. It can be assumed that the TIFF format will also be readable and displayable on future computer generation. Apart from PDF/A, TIFF is listed as an acceptable format for digital long-term archiving as required by the tax authorities.

bitfarm-Archiv also generates a small TIFF "preview" for archived file documents, e.g. a Word file. This enables a user to browse through documents in various formats without having to use and maintain external applications.

Usage with ICC-Profiles

As a result, it is the ideal format for color management workflows. Pixel images can be saved in a variety of color modes and color depths. All variants and extensions of a TIFF format should be readable without additional interventions, hence the TIFF format should be flexible and extendable from the start. For the prepress department, a high-quality TIFF extension was crucial. It brought the crucial CMYK color space to prepress, as well as the device-independent LAB color space. There was also a better colorimetric description of the RGB data.

An additional significant feature was the ability to save short previews, as well as an improved description of photographs. Clipping paths can also be used to trim photos without the usage of alpha channels. The printer outputs a TIFF faster than image data in the EPS format.

Web Usage

The TIFF format is used on the web to distribute photos in high resolution and thus lossless quality suitable for printing to a variety of users, such as publishers. The data amount of these files is sometimes many times that of a lossy JPG format, however this may be acceptable for the sake of quality.

Despite this, some parameters must be specified appropriately when creating TIFF files for the transfer of print data in order to achieve an optimal output. For instance, all of the image's layers must be condensed to a single backdrop layer. It is not permitted to employ alpha channels or clipping paths. Furthermore, the data should be preserved without compression, with the pixels arranged in a "interleaved" pattern.

Summing up, the keypoints are:

  • is one of the oldest graphic formats
  • is suitable for storing B/W copies as well as high-resolution drawings or color photos
  • approved format for digital (long-term) archiving named (germany)

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