High-Resolution Images – Making the Difference for Your Printed Documents

High-Resolution Images – Making the Difference for Your Printed Documents

Neil McElmon

If you want to use digital images in your printed materials, it’s essential to make sure the resolution is high enough for print.

It doesn’t matter how striking the image is if it’s not high resolution. What does it say about your brand if your printed work is low-quality? To consumers, the state of your printed materials—brochures, documents, posters—reflects the capability of your business.

So, how do you know if an image file is high enough resolution to use in your printed documents? There are a few things to consider.


What is resolution?

Digital pictures are made of thousands of pixels. A pixel—also known as a picture element— is the smallest unit of a digital image or graphic. If you zoom in on an image, it becomes a collection of colored squares (pixels). The number of pixels in the image will determine how high its resolution is.

The image’s resolution is the number of pixels divided by the size it is viewed at (in inches). This resolution will determine how clear your pictures will look: the higher the resolution, the more well-defined the image.

When we produce images in print, the resolution needs to be around 300 PPI. When we view images online, the resolution is much lower at 72 PPI.  So, even though your pictures might look beautiful on-screen at a specific size, they might not be fit for print. And it’s essential for your brand image and credibility to produce clear, impressive images in print as well as online.


What is high-resolution for print?

A high-resolution image for print is roughly 300 DPI. DPI stands for dots per inch: the printer is going to put out 300 dots of ink for every inch of your image. So, your image files should contain the same number of PPI as DPI.


How to use math to determine printing size:

Since images need to be printed at 300 PPI or DPI, you have to figure out the size required in pixels. You can do this by multiplying 300 by the number of inches the print is going to be. For example, to create a 3 x 5 print on a 300 DPI printer, you’d want a minimum of 900 x 1500 pixels.

Note: unless you’re printing huge banners or billboards, you’ll be printing your images at 300 DPI. The larger the print, the smaller the DPI needs to be since people will view it from further away.


How to use photoshop to determine printing size:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop and go to “Image” then “Image size.”
  2. To adjust the resolution to 300 PPI, uncheck the “Resample” box. This locks the Width, Height, and Resolution.
  3. Then change the resolution to 300 PPI. Now you can see the size of the image is for printing at 300 PPI.


Keep in mind: Most image files that come from a digital camera, smartphone, or stock photography site are high enough resolution for print. But, if you’re downloading an image from a website (be careful of Copywrite laws) or an attachment from an email, it’s crucial to check the resolution.

Your printed content affects the impression your brand leaves on people. It can reflect the quality of service you offer and the standards you set in your business. So ensure your images are high-quality, and their resolution is high enough for print.