World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Encapsulated PostScript

Article Id: WHEBN0000145479
Reproduction Date:

Title: Encapsulated PostScript  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Comparison of computer-aided design editors, PostScript, Inkscape, Vector graphics editor, Camera-ready
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Encapsulated PostScript

Encapsulated PostScript
Filename extension .eps
Internet media type application/postscript, application/eps, application/x-eps, image/eps, image/x-eps
Type code EPSF
Uniform Type Identifier (UTI) com.adobe.encapsulated-postscript
Extended from PostScript

Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is a DSC-conforming PostScript document with additional restrictions which is intended to be usable as a graphics file format. In other words, EPS files are more-or-less self-contained, reasonably predictable PostScript documents that describe an image or drawing and can be placed within another PostScript document. Simply, an EPS file is a PostScript program, saved as a single file that includes a low-resolution preview "encapsulated" inside of it, allowing some programs to display a preview on the screen.

At minimum, an EPS file contains a BoundingBox DSC comment, describing the rectangle containing the image described by the EPS file. Applications can use this information to lay out the page, even if they are unable to directly render the PostScript inside.

EPS, together with DSC's Open Structuring Conventions, form the basis of early versions of the Adobe Illustrator Artwork file format.


Because of the different ways in which EPS previews are handled, there is no one way to identify an EPS file.

  • A Windows-format EPS file containing a TIFF or WMF preview must start with the four bytes containing, in hexadecimal, C5 D0 D3 C6. (This sequence, rendered in ISO/IEC 8859-1, yields “ÅÐÓÆ”, loosely reminiscent of Adobe.) These bytes comprise the first four bytes of a 30-byte header, whose remaining fields are six unsigned 32-bit integers and a 16-bit checksum. (Often two zero bytes follow the header.) EPS files having "DOS" WMF or TIFF previews are widespread on all platforms.
  • In all other cases an EPS file must start with a line %!PS-Adobe-a.b EPSF-c.d where a, b, c and d are all single digit numbers.
    • A Mac-format EPS file is accompanied by a resource fork. The preview is a PICT resource with ID 256. An EPS file on the Mac is expected to have a file type code of "EPSF", whether or not it has a preview.
    • An EPSI file will contain a line starting %%BeginPreview: in the DSC prolog.
    • In many cases no preview is present at all.


A number of programs will save or convert text and vector art to EPS format, including:

Many image converter programs can create EPS files containing the pixels of the image.

An EPS file is a stream of generic PostScript printing commands. Thus many PostScript printer drivers have an option to save as EPS, or to add EPS DSC information to their output which you can "print to file". Saving as EPS was a feature of Microsoft's PSCRIPT.DRV Windows printer driver and Adobe's ADOBEPS.DRV Windows printer driver for Windows versions prior to Windows 2000.[1]


EPS files also frequently include a preview picture of the content, for on-screen display. The idea is to allow a simple preview of the final output in any application that can draw a bitmap. Without this preview the applications would have to directly render the PostScript (PS) data inside the EPS, which was beyond the capabilities of most machines until recently.

When EPS was first implemented, the only machines widely using PostScript were Apple Macintoshes. These machines could not directly render the PostScript, which presented Adobe with the problem of how to provide a preview image while also including the actual PS version for the printer. On the Mac this turned out to be easy to solve, as the Mac file system includes two parts (known as forks) that are logically referred to as one file. By placing the PostScript in the data fork and a standard Mac PICT resource in the resource fork, both images could be moved about together invisibly as if they were one file. While a PICT preview often contains a bitmap it could also contain a vector representation of the whole image, providing very high quality previews.

Neither of these technologies is commonly used on any other operating system, however. When faced with the same problems on Microsoft Windows-based versions of their programs, Adobe chose to instead include a TIFF file encoded into the header section of the PostScript. Sometimes, though more rarely, they used the WMF (Windows Metafile) format instead. WMF has the potential to provide vector previews, similar to PICT on the Mac. Both of these PC format EPS files have a particular disadvantage: because the PostScript data, header and preview are all in the same file, they will cause printing errors if a program does not understand the format well enough to extract only the PostScript data.

A fourth format known as a EPSI includes an ASCII-encoded preview bitmap. This format allows for black-and-white previews only. It is mainly used on UNIX systems.

Unfortunately, with several different ways of representing the preview, they have limited portability. An application which is unable to interpret an EPS file's preview will typically show an empty box on screen, but it will be able to print the file correctly.

The most widely supported kind of preview is a Windows format preview with a TIFF.

See also


  1. ^ Making an EPS file, Quite Software, November 11, 2002; retrieved October 9, 2008

Further reading

  • Adobe Developer Support, 1992. Encapsulated PostScript — File Format Specification, Version 3.0, Tech Note #5002, Adobe Systems Incorporated, San Jose, CA, USA, 34 pp. PDF
  • A First Guide to PostScript Encapsulated PostScript [1]
  • : official introductory comparison of PS, EPS vs. PDF.
  • EPS: a programming language [2]
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.