A GUIDELINE ABOUT DIGITAL VS ANALOG RESOLUTION… or…why we can’t grab your photo off your website for use on your printed brochure. . .

The human eye perceives approximately 200 dots per inch. Images you see reproduced in quality print materials are composed of 300 plus dots of ink per inch to simulate a continuos tone to the human eye. If the resolution used to make the image is too low you will see the dots in the image, and detail is lost and blurred.

Professionally printed images; graphics, scanned and digital photos, logos, backgrounds, illustrations, cartoons, icons, etc require at least 300 dpi at 100 percent size. For instance if your final logo will be printed 4″ x 4″ we would need a file 4″ x 4″ at 300 dpi to produce the best quality image. A 2″ x 2″ at 300 dpi will reproduce blurry when increased to the actual 4″ x 4″ size needed in this example.

Television and computer monitors have a maximum screen resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi). When web graphics are created they are best created full size at 72 dpi. If web or television graphics are created at higher resolutions, such as 300 dpi, you will not see the difference on screen. Your monitor is not be able to depict them. What you will see is the images take much longer to load.

If a graphic 4″x 4″ is 72 dpi and you stretch it to be 8″x 8″ the dpi then decreases. In this instant it is half the pixels per inch than what it began with – or 36 dpi in this example. When reproduced digitally or in print this image will be pixelated. It will appear blurry and you may see squares if reproduced digitally and dots if reproduced on a print press instead of a crisp, continuous tone.


You can check the resolution and size of your original in many photo editing softwares. In Adobe Photoshop go to Image/Image Size and within the dialog box you will see the actual heigth, width and resolution of the image and the amount of pixels in the image. The most important thing to remember is to start as big as you think may be needed. It you start at 300 dpi, you can go down to 72 dpi without loss of quality. If you start at 72 dpi, you can not go up to 300 dpi and expect clear, quality reproduction. In Photoshop (and possibly other editing software) you can “cheat” and plug in a number and “act as if” the photo is 300 dpi instead of the original 72 dpi it was produced in. This doesn’t work. You are not adding those dots per inch, it is then just a number, not an accurate representation of the (dpi) count.


This is why it is important to consider all of the places you will want to use logos, photos, graphics, layouts, etc. If you think you may use elements of your website, such as icons, backgrounds, etc. or your digital photos, in printed material, it’s important to let us know. Original designs will need to be produced in resolutions of 300 dpi or higher. Or they can be created at less dpi and a much larger height and width dimension and then scaled to actual size without resampling. Depending on the complexity of the design this may cost slightly more upfront because the files are larger and more time consuming to manipulate. However, it will still be less expensive than paying to entirely recreate them in a higher print resolution. Plan ahead and talk to us at the beginning about what media you my want to use your designs and images in.

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