Screen resolution is measured in pixels per inch (PPI).
Print resolution is measured in dots per inch (DPI).
An important note: Sometimes the terms DPI (print) and PPI (screen) are used interchangeably. So, don’t be confused if someone refers to a 300 DPI image that is on screen, because pixels per inch (PPI) translate equally to dots per inch (DPI).
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to keep images intended for screen to 72 PPI to keep file sizes small and websites loading quickly. If you go any higher than 72, you will not see any improvement, so no need to go above and beyond here!
For print, things can get a bit more tricky. Like I said above, DPI stands for “dots per inch” meaning if a file is 300 DPI, a printer will print 300 dots of ink for every inch of paper. (90,000 for every square inch…that’s a lot of dots.) For a high quality printed image, you’ll want to shoot for 300 DPI.
To figure out how large you can print an image, look at the image’s pixel dimensions. Take each dimension (length and width) and divide them by 300. That will tell you the largest you can print the image without losing definition. For example, you could print a 1024px by 768px image at 300 DPI at a size of 3.4133″ × 2.56″.
This type of quality is most sought after when creating things like books, magazines, anything intended to have longevity, or promotional materials needing to impress! (Check out Why Good Design Matters.)
Honestly, we should always do our best to have the highest quality images when representing our organization! However, there are times you can get away with stretching the quality for the sake of a banner that needs large images or something like that. Your local printer will be the best person to talk to about image quality because they live in this world daily.
If you’re worried about not having high enough quality images, start at the end (your local FedEx or print shop) and discuss what’s possible before reaching out to our team to help you put final designs together.