GIF, JIF or Hieroglyph

The year Dirty Dancing hit the big screen, fringe fashions made their debut and bacon only cost $1.80, one of today’s rising stars was born, the GIF. Created in June 1987, this summer marks the 27th anniversary of the GIF.


It can be found all over the Internet, but what is it and how do you say it?

For the basics: GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Technically, it is a “bitmap image format widely used on the Internet for its flexible web support and portability.”  Put more simply, a GIF is an image file format like a .jpg or .png. While not all GIFs are animated, the standard use of the word implies the animated kind.

We can sit here until we’re blue in the face discussing how you pronounce it. There are two widely accepted pronunciations: Jif like the peanut butter brand, or Gif, like gift without the t. Straight from the horses mouth, however, Steve Wilhite, GIFs creator says, “It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”

Why use them? According to writer Ann Friedman:

“(GIFs are) More compelling than a static photo and more immediate than Web video, the animated GIF … is a uniquely digital mode of conveying ideas and emotion. Like the Twitter hashtag, which has transitioned from a functional way of sorting content to its own part of speech, the animated GIF has gone from a simple file type to its own mode of expression. GIFs have grown up, and they are everywhere right now.”

For a deeper insight: GIF’s hit a rough patch a few years back, and have been on the down low ever since. You might remember them from the overuse on websites back in the day, but they’re back. This reinvigorated interest in GIFs may be attributed to the few skills necessary to create one, thanks to newer technology. Such technology also allows access to a massive volume of online videos, which in turn serve as the library for GIF-makers.

If your blog, website or business could benefit from an animated GIF, Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to provide marketing strategies through print, web, social media and video productionall in-house. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your marketing goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or

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