What is the Difference Between PDF Files & JPEGs?

PDF and JPEG (also written JPG) are widely used file formats. JPEG is a type of graphic image file, while PDF is a type of document file. Each may be converted to the other, but they are used for different applications.

Designer focusing on his work on the computer
credit: Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images


PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It’s a file format created by the Adobe software company. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which is the name of the committee that developed the JPEG format.


The PDF format effectively preserves the original layout of a document as the publisher intends it to look, but leaves each piece of the document open to editing with the proper software. JPEG files compress the separate components (layers) of an image into a single file, which then cannot be separated.

File Size

A JPEG image of a document will have a smaller file size than the same document in PDF format.

Ability to Copy

With a PDF, you can grant readers of the document the ability to copy text in the document. With JPEG files, readers of the document will not have the ability to copy the text captured in the image.


You can convert PDF files into JPEG files and vice versa using the proper software. Converting a PDF file to a JPEG file produces a compressed image of your document. Converting a JPEG file to a PDF file protects the layout of your image.