What Does GIF Stand For?

Dan Gold

Written by Dan

GIF is a file extension that stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Besides what the file extension GIF stands for, I’ve answered a few common questions about GIFs below!

How do you pronounce GIF?

There is a big debate on how to pronounce the word GIF. Personally, I say “GIF” like “gift”, but without the letter “T”. Others pronounce the word like “jif” with the “J” sound. According to this article on the New York Times, the proper pronunciation should be “jif”, like the popular brand of peanut butter. Whether or not you know what GIF stands for, at least you now know how to pronounce GIF correctly.

What’s the difference between a GIF, JPG, and PNG when used on the internet?

GIFs, JPGs and PNGs are all image formats used in various applications of print and web. They all have practical applications and strengths. The topics below will be focused on how these images formats are best used when interpreted by a web browser.

When should I use a GIF?

It is good to use a GIF when you want to display an animating image. Anything under 2MB is standard. If you exceed 2MB, it’s advised to include some lazy-loading image plugin or create a placeholder image while the larger image is loading. Alternatively, you can use an animated PNG (APNG) but it’s not as widely supported. Historically, GIFs were used to show transparency within an image before PNGs took over. GIFs are known for their large file size and aren’t as optimized for performance on the web.

When should I use a JPG?

JPG is an excellent image format for displaying images. The JPG compression is known for being ideal when serving images on the internet in a browser. JPG has two main compression types, progressive and non-progressive. When a JPG is progressive, it will load the image all at once, instead of like a garage door opening or closing. The progressive JPG will start by loading the pixels, but blurry until the image has enough time to buffer.

The JPG image format is so powerful because it can support various different compression types when you save an image. You can compress a JPG anywhere between 1 and 100. A compression of 1 will be a very low-quality image. A compression of 100 will be a very high-quality image. The difference will be in the file size.

The downside of using a JPG is every time you open the image to save it, the file gets compressed over and over again. Saving an image too many times will result in a very low-quality image.

When should I use a PNG?

A PNG is best used when using an image that has minimal color information. Logos, gradients, shapes, icons and text is a great use for a PNG. Because PNGs have lossless compression, you can edit and save them without losing any quality. Their compression type is such that color information is saved more efficiently than a JPG and a single color image will be smaller than a JPG of the same image.

What is the history of GIFs?

According to, the GIF was created on June 15, 1987, by CompuServe. Steve Wilhite is known to be the original creator! How cool would it be if you created the GIF? So cool.

Multiple images were configured to be stitched together within the .gif format that created the first animated GIF. Transparent colors and other metadata was already supported in some of the earlier formats of the GIF before it was a GIF. In 1995, one of the first web browsers, Netscape Navigator added support for making looking animated GIFs. That really paved the way for a lot of fun GIFs in the later years to come!

Last updated

December 28th, 2022