Using high-resolution images in your layout is a critical step toward creating a professional looking printing job. If you submit something for print that isn’t the proper resolution, your images will come out ‘soft’, blurry, or even pixelated.
The images you see on your computer monitor are only 72 dpi (dots-per-inch), which is fine for viewing on a monitor, but very inadequate for a professional-looking printed brochure. Your images should be at least 300 dpi to print clearly with full sharpness. There are a variety of stock image sites on the web where you can obtain inexpensive, high-resolution, royalty-free images to use in your brochure designs, we often use www.istockphoto.com . Some stock image sites even offer free high-resolution pictures you can use for your artwork.
DPI: Dots per inch. The number of dots or pixels in a single inch. The more dots the higher the quality of the picture (more resolution, more sharpness and clearer detail)
Resolution: The easiest way I can explain resolution is to say that more resolution means an image displays more detail (or is capable of displaying more detail). Higher DPI means higher resolution.
Professional Printing: 300dpi is standard, sometimes up to 600dpi will give a better result.
Home Printing: You can get away with 200dpi images on a home inkjet printer with good results.
Web: 72dpi, always.
If you are sending someone images to use for print and they tell you the images are “too small” odds are the resolution wasn’t high enough. The image might look great and huge on your computer but is actually really small when printed out. To add to the confusion, your monitor resolution will also determine how big the picture appears to you when viewing it on your computer. The same sized monitor set to 800×600 while show an 800 wide by 600 tall image as a full screen image. On a monitor that is 1600×1200 the image will only take up 1/4 the screen.
Here are a couple of quick examples to show you the difference, no matter what your monitor resolution, it’s all relative!
The first example below has a lot of detail and is at 300dpi (even though the web is 72dpi this works for example purposes)
The second example is at 72dpi but scaled up to the same size so you can see the difference in detail. The actual image would be about 1/4 the size when you go from 300dpi to 72dpi, but at the same height and width is where you can actually see the difference.
Hopefully this has helped you get a little clearer on the differences between DPI, resolution and why if you have someone do something for you in print there will be different requirements than for the web.
If you have any more questions on DPI and Resolution? Leave a reply in the comments section below and we’ll try to clarify.