Web resolution vs. Print resolution: Understanding the difference and how it affects you

So you think you can just copy and paste that company logo you found on Google Search into your soon- to be direct mail document? Stop! If you do that that your beautiful marketing design is going to look like it wandered through the wrong parts of Lego Land. We’ve all fallen victim to the misunderstanding of how resolution and pixels and dots work at one point or another but don’t despair! After reading this article you will hopefully have a better idea of how it all works and hopefully it will make your life a little easier.


Resolution, ppi, and dpi.


In a nutshell, resolution is essentially the amount of information an image holds. The more information on the image the more detail you will be able to see in the image.


Example of a high resolution image vs. its Lego block low resolution sibling.


Ppi and Dpi

Although the terms dpi (dots per inch) and ppi (pixels per inch) are often used interchangeably there is a subtle difference between the two (although, admittedly, you can use either to get your point across). Digital images are made up of little dots called pixels. The amount of pixels used in an image is referred to as ppi, or “pixels per inch”. What this tells us is the higher the pixels used in an image the more detail an image will have. Printed images, on the other hand are measured by dpi, or “dots per inch”. The reason for the distinction is that pixels are actually tiny squares, whereas, dots are…well…dots.


Web Resolution

There are a few things to take into account with web resolution. One, the quality of the image will vary depending on the screen size and the quality of the monitor, and two, most web images are generally set around 72 ppi:

1)      A higher ppi means a larger file size which slows the loading speed of web pages

By keeping image file sizes to a minimum you will increase the speed that users can access a web page. What user doesn’t appreciate being able to zoom around a website like Speedy Gonzalez?

2)      72 ppi will maintain a quality image

At this pixel range the quality of the image will be good enough that anything above this point will start to feel the ruthless affects of diminishing returns. Unless the absolute clearest image is necessary you probably do not need extra detail on web images.


Print Resolution

Printing resolution, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. Because you’re going for photo quality when printing images it is necessary to print off at a much higher dpi. While the eye generally can’t differentiate above 200 dpi it’s still recommended that you use 300 dpi images for maximum crispness. Without diving into a complex and lengthy explanation of how monitor resolution affects print quality, here are some things to keep in mind when prepping images for print.

1)      Zoom in 200% to check clarity of the image

One way you can verify that the image will be clear enough to print with is to take a closer look at the image. If the image quality is still good at 200% then you are OK to use it for print.

2)      Be careful when printing higher than 300 dpi

I know we keep preaching to increase resolution of the image but there is a constraint. Setting the resolution higher then 300 dpi can (potentially) detract from the printed image quality. This is because there is more information on the image then the printer knows what to do with which can lead to jagged edges and weird artifacts in the image.

If you have any questions regarding your printing needs give our VIP Customer Support reps a call at 800-260-5887 and let us know what we can do to help.

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