What Are SVG Icons: Scale Them AND Keep the Quality (2023)

Let’s cut straight to the chase – SVG Icons are XML-based graphics that rely on vector data instead of pixels. Is this format useful? You’d be surprised.

Just recently, our team had a debate about which icon format was the best – SVGs, icon fonts, or PNGs. Mind you, we’re a team of 25 designers and web developers, so things got heated (but civilized).

Still, SVG icons took the win in most categories. Two reasons clearly stand out – you can easily customize them and modern browsers love them. After you learn about them, we’re sure you’ll appreciate them too.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • What makes SVG icons unique
  • SVG icons performance analysis
  • Comparing SVGs to other formats
  • Getting the most out of SVG Icons
  • Creating SVGs yourself

Table of contents

  • What Makes SVG Icons Special?
  • Performance of SVG Icons
    • Scalability (Resolution)
    • Customization
    • Browser Support
    • SEO and Accessibility
    • External vs Inline SVG Icons
    • Positioning
  • Where to Use (and Not) SVG Icons
  • How Do SVG Icons Compare to Other Formats?
    • SVG vs Icon Fonts
    • SVG vs PNG Icons
  • Create SVG Icons Yourself
    • Create SVGs From Scratch
    • Convert Icon Font to Vector (TTF to SVG)
    • Convert Image Format to Vector (PNG to SVG)
    • Adding an SVG file to WordPress
  • Conclusion
(Video) How to Scale SVGs

What Makes SVG Icons Special?

The biggest quality of scalable vector graphics (SVG) is that they’re based on vectors. Thanks to this, the browser can render them easily and all the adjustments that you make will be displayed without losing quality.

What does this mean in practical terms? It allows you to zoom in (or out) as much as you want while keeping all the details crystal clear. The points and lines are determined by the SVG code, so the image can be rendered properly regardless of size.

What Are SVG Icons: Scale Them AND Keep the Quality (1)

Now, you might say: icon fonts are also vectors and can be scaled easily. True, but with a significant difference – an icon font is perceived by the browser as a font, while SVGs are viewed as graphics. This, in turn, prevents anti-aliasing rules and the subsequent edge blur.

We should also point out that SVG vector icons are displayed using CSS backgrounds. This means that you can easily change the color, size, or any other property directly in the CSS.

From the performance standpoint, a huge upside is the possibility to keep many icons in a single file. This is very useful because it prevents the need for sending multiple HTTP requests (makes the page a lot faster).

So, do SVG icons have any downsides? Yes. One of the biggest flaws is their incompatibility with old web browsers. For example, IE8 and Android 2.3 (and lower) won’t display them. On top of this, they aren’t particularly good for complex images because the code gets bulky which causes rendering issues.

SVG icons are vector graphic files, meaning that you can freely change their size while keeping the image quality perfect.

Performance of SVG Icons

The overall performance of SVG icons can be evaluated from several different aspects: scalability, customization, browser support, accessibility, inline and external style, as well as positioning. We’ll say a few words about each of these so you can see if an SVG icon set is the right solution for you.

Scalability (Resolution)

A huge advantage of using SVG icons is the adjustability they offer. The lines of code are very easy to modify, so you can make the image larger or smaller in a matter of seconds. The browser then renders the file again and you get a crystal clear SVG image. Also, unlike a font file, the CSS file of the SVG icon is still seen as a graphic so there will be no anti-aliasing.


The thing we particularly like about web icons in SVG format is how easy they are to customize. You can change every SVG element in CSS, from size and color all the way to animating the icon. SVG animation works really well when displayed, without reducing the page speed.

Browser Support

Vector graphic file format is supported really well by all modern browsers. If you’re keeping your icon library as an SVG sprite (single file), there will be no multiple requests so the browser performance will be excellent. However, as we’ve pointed out, old browsers (IE8 and older) don’t have good SVG support so the vector image won’t be displayed properly.

SEO and Accessibility

Thanks to their XML nature, SVG graphic formats are easily accessible. A browser reads and renders the information quickly and easily, which not only boosts speed but helps with SEO.

External vs Inline SVG Icons

Performance-wise, inline SVG icons are a much better solution. An inline icon reduces the number of HTTP requests which will decrease the page loading time, making it similar to font icons. On the other hand, external SVGs can send a large number of requests which isn’t desirable if you want a high-performing page.

(Video) SVG Explained in 100 Seconds


Unlike the alternatives, scalable vector icons are positioned with code. Because of this, it’s very easy to determine the exact position without adjusting size, alignment, or spacing as you would do with a font icon.

Where to Use (and Not) SVG Icons

After talking about the technical stuff, we should also discuss where you should and shouldn’t use an SVG icon system.

As we’ve pointed out, the main advantages of SVGs are easy customization and perfect scaling. As such, they are excellent for icons that need to easily adjust to the window size.

On the other hand, SVG icons and other SVG graphics in general are not for complicated images. In this scenario, the code in the SVG tag gets huge which can make the page slower.

What Are SVG Icons: Scale Them AND Keep the Quality (2)

How Do SVG Icons Compare to Other Formats?

All three of the most popular icon formats (PNG, SVG, and font) have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on where you use them. Let’s quickly look at some of the most notable differences.

SVG vs Icon Fonts

The basic principle of SVGs and icon fonts is very similar, with the key difference being how a browser perceives them. While both are vectors, a browser sees an SVG as a graphic, while an icon font is processed as a standard web font.

This allows SVGs to avoid anti-aliasing rules, while icon fonts are subject to them and can become blurry if extended too much.

On the other hand, icon fonts have their advantages too. The file size is smaller compared to SVGs, so they offer even faster performance. Because of this, they are the best option if you need a large number of simple monochromatic icons.

SVG vs PNG Icons

The main difference between the two is that raster graphics (PNG) have a fixed size while vector graphics (SVG) don’t.

This means that if you stretch a PNG image beyond its original size, it will start to get blurry and pixelated. SVG icons, on the other hand, are rendered using vectors so they don’t have this problem.

However, PNG icons have their advantages too. When optimized, PNG files can be really small and work smoothly on web pages. In addition, they are significantly better for complex detailed images.

If you want to learn more about high-quality image formats, reading about HEIF and Progressive JPEG is an excellent way to start.

Create SVG Icons Yourself

If you’ve decided that SVG icons are the solution for you, now you need to create an icon system that you can upload to your website. Here, you have several options – create SVG from scratch, convert an icon font, or convert an image format to SVG code.

(Video) Reduce PNG or SVG file size (up to 90%, without loss in quality)

Create SVGs From Scratch

If you need a custom icon set, you’ll be glad to hear that making SVGs is not difficult (with just basic design skills).

In case you own paid software from Adobe, four programs can export and import SVGs: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Animate. Some programs, like Illustrator, can even export code that you can incorporate directly into HTML.

However, you don’t have to own expensive software to create SVG files. Some of the well-known free options include Inkscape, GIMP, and Figma, among others.

Don’t want to waste time creating your own icons? That’s ok, we understand and wish to help.

All Flat-Icons designs are available in SVG format, allowing you to instantly adjust them for your project. If this sounds interesting, you can take a look at our Gallery or check out the 20,000 Icon Bundle.

Convert Icon Font to Vector (TTF to SVG)

For those of you who have icon font libraries and wish to convert them into an SVG symbol sprite, the internet is the way to go. Two converters that we would recommend (because we use them) are Convertio and CloudConvert, but many alternatives are also available online.

Convert Image Format to Vector (PNG to SVG)

Just like font icons, image formats (PNG primarily) are fairly simple to convert. The easiest way is to do this in any of the software we listed above. Besides this, you can also use an online converter like the previously mentioned Convertio or Vector Magic.

Adding an SVG file to WordPress

Once you’ve prepared your icons (whether it’s an individual icon, an icon pack, or SVG image sprites), adding them to WordPress can be done in one of two basic ways.

Since we’ve talked about SVG icons being a block of code, you can simply paste the HTML code wherever you want the icon to be.

If you don’t want to mess with code, you’re going to need a WP Plugin that allows you to add the image directly. Two great plugins for handling SVG uploads are SVG Support and Safe SVG, but there are a lot of options if you wish to explore.


Like any other format, SVG icons have both pros and cons – calling them ideal wouldn’t be honest. In modern web development, however, they have a lot of advantages which is why their popularity continues to grow.

Do you feel like we’ve missed something? Have something that you’d like to add? Hit us up with a comment, we’ll be glad.

What is SVG used for?

The SVG file format is used for two-dimensional images with a special accent on customization. Because they are vectors, you can change the size, colors, and other elements without compromising quality.

(Video) HOW TO: Create Simple Vector (SVG) Icons for use in Niagara 4

How do SVG icons work?

SVG icons exist as XML text that browsers can easily read and display. The fact that they are blocks of code (instead of images) allows you to easily make changes and customize them to your needs.

Is it better to use SVG or PNG?

This really depends on what you need the image for. Due to their scalable nature, SVGs are much better for logos, material icon design, animated icons, and illustrations. On the other hand, PNGs are significantly better for complex images.

When should I use SVG?

(Video) Optimise page load time: icon font or SVG?

You should use SVG when you need easily resizable graphics. Icons are a good example, but SVG is also great for logos, graphs, and illustrations. On top of this, building an icon library with SVG icons improves the page performance.


What are SVG icons? ›

The primary purpose of SVG icons is to define vector-based graphics in XML format. SVG icons are slowly earning the stature of a new standard for web fonts and images. Instead of a font or an image, SVG is instead a block of XML code directly served to a browser which renders it in an intended manner.

What is SVG quality? ›

SVGs offer lossless compression — which means they're compressible to smaller file sizes at no cost to their definition, detail, or quality. PNGs also benefit from lossless compression of 5-20%, which can help make up for their large file size. However, they're still likely to be larger than an SVG.

How do I optimize SVG icons? ›

1. Use your vector graphic editor
  1. Delete invisible layers.
  2. Carefully consider converting all text to paths.
  3. Combine paths. ...
  4. Don't mask; crop by reshaping you paths and actually deleting hidden content. ...
  5. Simplify groups. ...
  6. Scan for non-SVG friendly elements such as embedded raster images.
  7. Lastly, trim your canvas.

Are SVGs scalable? ›

SVGs are scalable and will render pixel-perfect at any resolution whereas JPEGs, PNGs and GIFs will not. SVGs are vector images and therefore are usually much smaller in file-size than bitmap-based images.

Is SVG higher quality? ›

SVG is ideal for high quality images and can be scaled to ANY size. Many people choose file formats based on file size restrictions - adding pictures to your website that will load as quickly as possible to improve SEO, for example.

What is the difference between icons and SVG? ›

First off, an SVG is a bona fide graphic, whereas an icon font is a font glyph. This means while the SVG will be treated like any other graphic in the browser, the icon font will be treated like a piece of text by the browser, and this has quite a lot of implications for how the font is being handled.

Does scaling SVG image degrade image quality? ›

Let's break this down: Scalable: SVGs can be resized up or down without damaging the quality of the image. It will be perfectly crisp and clear, no matter how large or small it is. Vector: Most image file types contain pixels.

Do SVG images have resolution? ›

Advantages of SVG files.

Unlike raster files, which are made up of pixels, vector graphics like SVGs always maintain their resolution — no matter how large or small you make them. You don't have to worry about SVG images losing their quality in certain browsers or when you resize them to appear in different places.

Does SVG have a resolution? ›

SVG offers a truly resolution-independent technique for presenting graphics on the Web. SVG is a vector graphics format that uses XML to define basic properties such as paths, shapes, fonts and colors, and more advanced features such as gradients, filters, scripting and animation.

How do I reduce the size of an SVG file without losing quality? ›

Every single possible way to trim SVG file size
  1. Use less anchor points. ...
  2. Remove any element or anchors that are out of view. ...
  3. Simplify hidden sections. ...
  4. Rounding. ...
  5. Combine separate paths. ...
  6. Use CSS classes to apply complex styles. ...
  7. Group elements with the same styles. ...
  8. Use the <use> element for duplicate shapes.
Aug 23, 2021

Why does my SVG logo look pixelated? ›

The problem is as the graphic becomes smaller there are less pixels to work with. When rendering the SVG the browser is using equations to determine pixels but the equations result in numbers that fall in between pixels.

How do I make SVG not blurry? ›

How do I Make Sure my Logo is not Blurry, on all Screens?
  1. Uploading a version of your logo that has 2x the required pixel dimensions.
  2. Uploading an SVG version of your image, instead of the typical PNG format.
  3. Installing additional plugins, or software, to provide this functionality.
Jun 12, 2021

What is the disadvantage of SVG? ›

Disadvantages of Using SVG Images

Because SVG is vector-based, it does not work well for images with lots of fine details and textures like photographs. SVG is best suited for logos, icons, and other “flat” graphics that use simpler colors and shapes.

What are the disadvantages of SVG files? ›

Disadvantages of SVG files.

SVG files are great for web graphics like logos, illustrations, and charts. But their lack of pixels makes displaying high-quality digital photos difficult. JPEG files are generally better for detailed photographs. Only modern browsers can support SVG images.

Do SVG graphics lose quality if they are zoomed or resized? ›

SVG graphics do NOT lose any quality if they are zoomed or resized. SVG is an open standard.

Does SVG lose quality? ›

Scalability. One the major benefits of SVG is that they are resolution independent. This means that unlike file types such as JPG or PNG, SVGs retain the same quality no matter what screen resolution or size they are being at.

Which has better quality JPEG or PNG or SVG? ›

JPGs can contain millions of colours and have much smaller file sizes, but are best for photos where there are no crisp lines or text. For pictures with crisp lines or text (e.g. a graph), stick with PNG and compromise on the number of colours you use. Replace PNG with SVG for simple line drawings, logos and icons.

When should you not use SVG files? ›

There are two notable reasons why you may not choose to use an SVG file.
  1. Not the right format for high-quality or detailed photos. Designers create vector graphics with points and paths, not pixels. ...
  2. Requires some knowledge of code. SVG is an XML-based scene description language for graphics.
Dec 22, 2022

Does SVG size matter? ›

SVG Files Have Infinite Scalability

An SVG file has the ability to be resized to any size you'd like without losing image quality. The size of an SVG file doesn't matter, as they will look the same no matter how big or small they appear on your website.

Which type of SVG is mostly preferred? ›

So as XML files, you can create and edit an SVG image with text editor, but generally drawing programs like inkspace are preferred to create it. SVG is mostly used for vector type diagrams like pie charts, 2-Dimensional graphs in an X,Y coordinate system etc.

Why does an SVG scale better than raster graphics? ›

In a responsive web design context, one of the major benefits of SVGs is that they can infinitely scale larger or smaller without losing any fidelity. In comparison, raster images like GIF, JPEG, and PNG store color information for the pixels that comprise an image with specific dimensions.

Why is my SVG blurry when resized? ›

The reason it is "blurry" is due to anti-aliasing.

Can vector images be scaled without losing quality? ›

There are no pixels in a vector file. A vector file's mathematical formulas capture shape, border, and fill color to build an image. Because the mathematical formula recalibrates to any size, you can scale a vector image up or down without impacting its quality.

What digital image can be scaled without losing quality? ›

Vector graphics can be scaled to any size without losing quality.

Is PNG or SVG higher quality? ›

If you have detailed images, definitely stick with PNG. However, SVGs are better for responsive and retina-ready web design due to their scalability and lack of quality degradation. In addition, they support animation while PNG doesn't, and raster file types that support animation like GIF and APNG.

How many pixels should an SVG be? ›

The most common pixel format of a SVG logo is 783*359 Pixels; however, there are other pixel sizes that can also be used. Such pixels are 320 × 147 pixels | 640 × 293 pixels | 1,024 × 469 pixels | 1,280 × 587 pixels | 2,560 × 1,174 pixels.

Which file types can you resize without losing quality? ›

PNG is a lossless format, meaning that no data is removed during compression. WebP. WebP is a relatively new file format developed by Google that aims to produce smaller file sizes than JPG and PNG while retaining quality. You can learn more about WebP here.

How do I stop SVG from scaling? ›

In order to avoid the no-CSS scaling issue, all you need to do is not remove the width and height attributes from the SVG.
  1. Keep the width and height attributes. ...
  2. Specify your desired width and height values in the CSS.
Mar 1, 2016

How do I make SVG more crisp? ›

To achieve crisp edges, the user agent might turn off anti-aliasing for all lines and curves or possibly just for straight lines which are close to vertical or horizontal. Also, the user agent might adjust line positions and line widths to align edges with device pixels.

How do I convert a JPEG to high resolution SVG? ›

Go to File. Select Export. Click Export As. Select JPG format from the drop-down menu.

Is SVG depend on resolution? ›

On the other hand, SVG files are vector-based — built from a complex mathematical network of lines, dots, shapes and algorithms. They can expand to any size without losing their resolution.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of SVG? ›

it's possible to view the contents of the SVG file in any browser (IE, Chrome, Opera, FireFox, Safari, etc.). Cons: – the file size is growing very fast, if the object consists of a large number of small elements; – it's impossible to read a part of the graphic object, only the entire object and it slows you down.

What's the difference between PNG and SVG which is better and why? ›

While PNGs are capable of handling very high resolutions, they're not infinitely expandable. On the other hand, SVG files are vector-based — built from a complex mathematical network of lines, dots, shapes and algorithms. They can expand to any size without losing their resolution.

How do I use an SVG icon? ›

SVG images can be written directly into the HTML document using the <svg> </svg> tag. To do this, open the SVG image in VS code or your preferred IDE, copy the code, and paste it inside the <body> element in your HTML document. If you did everything correctly, your webpage should look exactly like the demo below.

Is SVG better than PNG? ›

If you have detailed images, definitely stick with PNG. However, SVGs are better for responsive and retina-ready web design due to their scalability and lack of quality degradation. In addition, they support animation while PNG doesn't, and raster file types that support animation like GIF and APNG.

What is SVG on Cricut? ›

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic, and they're the preferred file format for working with Cricut Design Space and other cutting machine/design software.

How do I make my own SVG icon? ›

Creating an Icon font
  1. Step 1: Drag & drop selected SVG's and create a new set.
  2. Step 2: Select all the icons you wish to include in the font.
  3. Step 3: Generate the font.
  4. Step 4: Rename all the icons and define a unicode character for each (optional)
  5. Step 5: Download the generated files.
Nov 15, 2017

Why use SVG for icons? ›

Smaller File Sizes

SVG files contain enough information to display vectors at any scale, whereas bitmaps require larger files for scaled-up versions of images — more pixels use up more file space. This is good for websites because smaller files load faster on browsers, so SVGs can increase overall page performance.

How do SVG images work? ›

SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics is a web standard for defining vector-based graphics in web pages. Based on XML the SVG standard provides markup to describe paths, shapes, and text within a viewport. The markup can be embedded directly into HTML for display or saved to a . svg file and inserted like any other image.

Can you print SVG files on paper? ›

You can use SVG files for some print work, particularly printing for clothing and crafting —but they're not compatible with enough devices to rely on them for day-to-day tasks.

Can any SVG file be used for Cricut? ›

Yes! You can upload your own images or any of our free SVG & Me cut files that are already formatted to be totally compatible with Cricut Design Space. There are all sorts of image file types out there. The best kind (that we provide) are SVGs, which stands (lemme put on my nerdy glasses here) scalable vector graphic.

Why does Cricut need SVG? ›

It lets you customize anything! In short, all you really need to know is that SVGs are great files to upload to Cricut – they're crisp, clear and easy to use! They're often referred to as Cut Files in the Cricut/Silhouette world..

What size should an SVG icon be? ›

SVG images, in contrast, can be drawn at any pixel size, so they don't need a clearly defined height or width.

What is SVG image format? ›

What is an SVG file? Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a web-friendly vector file format. As opposed to pixel-based raster files like JPEGs, vector files store images via mathematical formulas based on points and lines on a grid.

Can I make my own SVG for Cricut? ›

While The Design Space puts some basic tools in your hands and even has a simple SVG converting tool. Corel makes it possible to custom-craft your own shapes, prints, and whole-project designs before exporting your chosen files to print through your Cricut.


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