Here the author is comparing two image compression formats, namely, the JPEG format and the GIF format:

The moral of this tale is that more often than not, you’ll want to retain as much photographic realism in your inline images as possible, and you’ll forgo a little extra file size for that privilege, whereas for your background images, you’ll likely need less realism and will be working with larger blocks of color or small gradient areas, and will therefore need the GIF format.

I know that the verb construction forgo something basically means to go without something but in the context of this big sentence, it doesn't really make much sense, if you think about it for a second. If you're using the JPEG format, you can't forgo a little extra file size (you will not go without it, on the contrary, you will go with it!) because JPEG image files are usually larger than the same images compressed with the GIF format. There must be something I'm missing.

  • Probably the author meant "a little extra memory" instead.
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


I don't think you're missing anything. The writer probably made a mistake, perhaps during an editing pass when they decided to adjust their wording and didn't make all the necessary fixes. What (s)he really means is something like "forgo a slightly better file size" — but I can't think of a non-awkward way to phrase that.

If I were the writer, I'd probably forgo forgo, and change it to "accept a little extra file size".

  • I might say you will "incur" a little extra file size...
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 4:25
  • @Jim: "Forgo" and "accept" both imply intent, whereas "incur" does not. (One can, for example, "accidentally incur" a penalty.) So I don't think that "incur" conveys everything that the writer was trying to convey.
    – ruakh
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:07
  • I see your point, but I wouldn't read too much into the author's intent, they clearly don't even know how to use forgo correctly.
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:13
  • @Jim: Dunno what you mean by "clearly". As you can see from my answer, I think they do know how to use forgo correctly, and simply made a mistake. (Have you never made an editing mistake?)
    – ruakh
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:32
  • Maybe, but I think it's sloppy writing. Notice in the next sentence where it's talking about less realism, larger blocks of color "and will therefore need the GIF format." While I agree that GIF may be better suited, one hardly needs the GIF format.
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:44

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