Tiff vs. PDF File Formats - ByteScout

Tiff vs. PDF File Formats

Several file formats are in use to store documents and images. Every file formats have some pros and cons. Tagged Image file format (TIFF) and Portable Document Format (PDF) are two of the most widely used image formats.

Both of these document formats have few advantages and certain limitations and they are used in different situations. This article deals with the advantages, disadvantages, and comparisons of these formats. Let us first discuss the TIFF file format and then to talk about PDF comparison:

  1. Portable Document Format (PDF)
  2. What is TIFF Document?
  3. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)
  4. Pros and Cons of TIFF
  5. PDF vs. TIFF
  6. TIFF to PDF Conversion/PDF to TIFF Conversion
  7. TIFF vs. JPEG for Scanning Documents
  8. Conclusion


Portable Document Format (PDF)

Portable document format is the most widely used document format due to its portability and interoperability. Portable document formats are able to store both rasters as well as vector images.

PDF is also considered the most secure document format. PDF documents can be compressed using specialized tools and they are often used on the internet for document transferring owing to portability.

Originally TIFF was used for documents archiving but now PDF has taken its place for that purpose.

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What is TIFF Document?

What is a TIFF file or document? It’s a graphics container used to hold raster images. High-quality graphics with deep colors, held in the containers, may range from 1-bit to 24 bits. They support lossless and lossy compressions. TIFF documents or files also support several pages and layers.

The acronym TIFF stands for “Tagged Image File Format.” It’s a printing standard used in the publishing industry. The TIFF format was designed for standard use in storing high-quality images with deep colors on several computer platforms.

Used with the .TIF extension, the file format was developed by Aldus in 1986. The company later merged with Adobe Systems in 1994. Unlike other formats, the TIFF format is preferred for intermediate file archiving.

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)

TIFF file format is a type of raster image file formats. Raster images are those images that are composed of several pixels, like bitmap images which consist of a bit. Increasing or decreasing the size of these pictures may distort the actual image, unlike the vector images.

Contrary to JPEG image formats, TIFF file formats can’t be compressed. Vector images are defined by mathematical formulas, hence resizing them doesn’t have any impact on image quality. But, this is not the case with TIFF images.

TIFF images can be easily modified and updated due to the flexibility of the format. It’s for this reason TIFF Images are mostly used by graphic designers and image editing experts.

The TIFF format is used in faxing, desktop publishing, medical imaging, and 3-D applications. TIFF documents are available in color palette, grayscale or RGB full-color classes. It can also include CCITT Group 4 (standard length for compressing images), LZW or JPEG.

Pros and Cons of TIFF Formats

Pros and Cons of TIFF

TIFF file format is popular among publishers, graphic designers, and photographers. Based on a lossless format, it ensures images maintain their quality even post-editing. With variations such as GeoTIFF and BigTIFF, files can be as large as 4GB.

However, the large nature of TIFF-extensions makes the file format unsuitable for web usage. TIFF documents are therefore ideal for preservation and editing.

Before looking at TIFF advantages and disadvantages, let’s differentiate lossy vs. lossless compressions, and vector vs. raster images. File compression reduces the size to save on storage space and makes file sharing easier.

The right file compression type depends on the need to preserve the original file data or not. Lossy compression partially deletes image data and a mathematical formula used to average the colors.

On the other hand, lossless compression preserves the quality of images while reducing the size of the file. All image pixels are placed in the same category of colors to ease indexing. Lossy compression is ideal when there’s a need to reduce file size to save space without loss of quality is a concern.

However, if there’s a need to maintain an image’s initial state and quality without the need to save space, lossless compression is handy. It supports image conversion to the previous state without losing quality.

Vector and raster images differ in terms of resizing or scale. Raster images are made up of pixels, and thus stretch when enlarged. It results in reduced image quality. Use raster file formats for images with continuous tones and blending colors such as photos.

On the other hand, vector images feature curves, points, and lines defined using mathematical formulas. The quality of an image isn’t affected when it’s enlarged. Vector images are ideal for illustrations with clear differences between the design elements.

PDF to TIFF – PDF.co

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of TIFF?

Pros of TIF/TIFF

  • Images aren’t compressed, resulting in no information loss
  • Produces accurate images of high quality
  • Supports channel transparency
  • Versatile
  • Images maintain quality

Cons of TIF/TIFF

  • Supports transparency of channels
  • Not ideal for web usage
  • Limited file size of up to 4 gigabytes because the formats utilize 32-bit offsets
  • Not widely supported
  • Lacks support for advanced imaging capabilities
  • Lacks technique for specifying layered relationships between varied TIFF pages

Difference between TIFF and PDF

Difference between TIFF and PDF

There’re several differences between TIFF and PDF. After scanning documents, it’s necessary to choose a suitable format for image storage. Scanned images can be stored either as TIF format or PDF format files. Despite the two formats differing technically, the right format is mostly a personal choice.

Adobe Acrobat software is used to develop PDF files. According to Adobe, PDF files are portable. The free to download program is compatible with all operating systems and hardware. Due to ease of use on different platforms, PDF files are increasingly becoming popular.

Traditionally, scanned images of documents were stored as TIFF files. Most operating systems feature a TIFF viewer because the file format has been in use for a long time. This means that just like PDF, TIFF files are portable.

PDF and TIFF file formats require a similar amount of space for storage. It means a PDF file of three pages and a TIFF file of three pages are of the same size. The right choice of file format usually depends on their intended use, but not a technicality.

How will the scanned images be searched? The PDF format is ideal for scanned “monolithic” files. These files are known by users and search is done based on the name of the file instead of an extensive indexing structure. For instance, the PDF file format is handy when storing different files for different clients.

Clearly, another difference between PDF and TIFF files lies in how they’re indexed or accessed. TIFF format files are ideal for images intended for indexing. This means there’s a database associated with the scanned images for indexing.

The database is used to store and track an image’s information for indexing. The structure of indexing is either included internally as part of the imaging software or kept in an external database such as Informix, Access, or Oracle.

Store images in PDF file format unless you intend to use a document imaging program to scan files for storage and indexing of scanned images. TIF format comes in handy when utilizing a document imaging software. Whichever format you opt for, it’ll work.

Other Differences between TIFF and PDF

  • Security

Passwords protect PDF files from unauthorized editing, viewing, and printing. However, even after sharing a protected PDF file, you can revoke access, editing, viewing, and other privileges using the ConnectedPDF technology by Foxit.

However, TIFF files don’t have built-in features for security. It’s only possible to give or disallow access to a TIFF file. But, after sharing it with another party or publishing it on the web, it becomes difficult to alter its security status.

  • Indexing and Search-ability

PDF file format allows for the integration of metadata based on the complex XML and basic tags. Apart from files saved in the format of images only, PDF documents can be searched. This is important when there’s a need to archive files for searchability by others.

On the other hand, TIFF files allow for the integration of simple tags because they’re “wrapper for images.” It takes the use of an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program to enable search based on text. OCR software develops a different text file for indexing and search, adding another complexity level to the TIFF file.

  • Grayscale, Color, and Scanning in White and Black

TIFF and PDF file format has different technologies of compression for scanning, grayscale, color or white and black documents. For instance, TIFF-LZW scans color and bi-tonal images. On the other hand, TIFF-G4 scans images in black and white.

  • Document Archiving

Both TIFF and PDF have been adopted widely. However, PDF/A is the file format that supports long-term document archiving for viewing and reading in the future. Many publication services and online libraries use it for digital archiving and storage of records.

  • Scanning of Multi-Page Files

TIFF format supports the scanning of documents with several pages as one page. It increases the speed of scanning in comparison to PDF scanning or multi-page TIFF scanning.

  • Conversion

ByteScout PDF Multitool eases the process of scanning PDF files. TIFF to PDF conversion is possible with its Toolkit when handling large file volumes. It’s also possible to convert PDF files to TIFF files.

Here’s a table comparing TIFF and PDF file formats based on various properties.


PDF and TIFF have been compared on the basis of several properties as mentioned in the following table.

Property TIFF PDF
Modifiability Easily Modified and Updated Needs Special Software to modify
Image Type Contain only Raster Images Contain both raster and vector Images
Web Browser Readability Can’t be read in a web browser HTML supports PDF readability
Security Less Secure A more sophisticated security technique
Presentation Quality Less Quality Presentation High-quality presentation
Documents and Link Attachment Is not able to attach other documents and links Can attach other document types with it along with hyperlinks and
Print Quality Not suitable for  printing owing to the inability to retain original document content Can contain text and able to retain original document content in the printed form

TIFF to PDF Conversion/PDF to TIFF Conversion

It’s possible to convert TIFF to PDF online using PDF.co PDF to TIFF converter. The converters can either be downloaded for use from computers or accessed for conversion online.

A PDF to TIFF online converter allows PDF files to be converted to TIFF files or the converse. Whether you want to convert TIFF or PDF files, the conversion tools are available for free online.

If you want to convert a TIFF file to PDF, find out how to convert PDF to TIFF, image in C# and Visual Basic .NET with Bytescout PDF Renderer SDK.

TIFF vs. JPEG for Scanning Documents

TIFF vs. JPEG for Scanning Documents

TIFF files support both lossless compression and uncompression, atop being large than JPEG files. TIFF files range from 8 bits to 16 bits in bit depth for each channel. And, a single TIFF file can hold many images in layers.

Due to a lack of compression elements, TIFF files are ideal for intermediate file archiving for editing later on. Although most cameras have the option of storing images as TIFF files, they can take up lots of storage space. A RAW file format is a superior option due to its smaller size and the ability to retain more detail on an image.

TIFF format is ideal for bitmap images for editing. Designed for quality preservation, the file format doesn’t compress to reduce file size. TIFF documents are compatible with photo editing programs such as Photoshop, and provide the options to use layers, tags, and transparency.

TIFF file formats aren’t ideal for file compression and web use. However, it’s perfect for editing digital images in storage formats. Although it doesn’t utilize compression like other file formats, TIFF supports compression of various types of data using Lempel-Ziv-Welch technique of lossless compression of photographic images.

TIFF files can either be uncompressed or compressed. However, as mentioned earlier, they’re larger than JPEGs, translating to the consumption of more storage space. The advantages of TIFF file format over JPEG format include the usage of bit depths ranging from 8 bits to 16 bits for each channel and storage of images in layers on one TIFF file.

Another advantage of TIFF over JPEG is the possibility of free exchange between TIFF applications and computer systems. Unlike other image formats, including JPEG, TIFF files are flexible and have better capabilities and features. However, it also means learning TIFF, and comprehending its features is complex.

Finally, TIFF files have “.TIFF” or “.TIF” extensions, and comprise an image file directory, a file header, and a bitmap data.

JPEG, on the other hand, stands for “Joint Photographic Expert Group.” It was designed to support the storage of photographic images just as the name indicates. It supports image storage and display on web pages, and photo storage in digital cameras.

Although JPEG files are smaller than TIFF files (takes up less storage space), they only adopt lossy compression. However, the files are flexible because you can change image settings to your specific photo preferences. When compressed, only photo elements that can’t affect its quality or impact it visually are deleted.

The human eye barely notices minor differences between color and brightness. JPEG uses this fact to reduce file size and discard less important details without leaving a noticeable difference in quality.

However, it’s easier to compress images with less texture and details such as the skies than highly detailed images with high levels of noise. The latter isn’t easily compressed because the compression level depends on the content of an image.

JPEG file format is the most universal for storing or displaying photos online. The format is compatible with various programs and devices, atop supporting a full-color spectrum. Opt for this file format if you don’t mind reduced quality to some extent for smaller file sizes.

When images are edited and saved, JPEG quality goes down. The format is ideal for web use while TIFF is handy if there’s a need to continuously edit images. The latter maintains image quality despite the number of times it’s edited and saved or printed.


The right file type is key to taking advantage of your digital images. Whereas some file formats are ideal for striking a balance between file size and quality during image storage, others allow for reverting to original photos from a bad photo edit.

TIFF images can be used in scenarios where documents are not being transferred online and image quality is not a preference or we want to modify the image. However, if we require high quality and secure file format, PDF is the best option.

Choose from TIFF, PDF, and JPEG file formats depending on your unique needs to edit, store or compress files without compromising quality or not.


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