Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images

Why should you care about understanding DPI & Resolution?

Because if you are going to print something of quality or are ever tasked with optimizing images for the web, knowing a few basics will save you a lot of time and give you the best results.

On the other hand, if you ever hire someone to develop print materials or build a website for you, they’ll have requirements you may not understand and not everyone is good at explaining them.

Read on for a simple explanation of what you need to know.

It’s important, to begin with a high-quality image which means the highest resolution and image dimensions you can get. When it comes to source images, bigger is better, because you can go down in size, but not up, without losing quality.

I use several online sources for free and paid images and take a lot of my own pictures. If you are looking to improve your own pictures take a look at Photo Nuts & Bolts.

Learn what’s working today to build a one person, 7-Figure Business.

Definitions (in layman’s terms):

DPI: Dot’s per inch. The number of dots in a printed inch. The more dot’s the higher the quality of the print (more sharpness and detail).

PPI: Pixels per inch. Most commonly used to describe the pixel density of a screen (computer monitor, smartphone, etc…) but can also refer to the pixel density of a digital image.

Resolution: Resolution is the measure of pixels in the display, usually expressed in measurements of width x height. For example a monitor that is 1920 x 1080 is 1920 pixels across and 1080 pixels down.

Higher resolution means more detail. Higher DPI means higher resolution. Resolution is not “size”, but it’s often confused with it because higher resolution images are often bigger, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

Print: 300dpi is standard, sometimes 150 is acceptable but never lower, you may go higher for some situations.

Web/Digital: DPI doesn’t equate to digital it’s a print measure. It was commonly believed for a long that 72dpi was ideal for the web. If you hear that it’s simply not the way things work. When talking digital, we’re concerned with the actual resolution. How that image prints is another matter.

Let’s see it in action…

If you are creating images to use for print and the images are “too small” the odds are the resolution wasn’t high enough. The image might look huge on your computer but still print out quite small. To add to the confusion, your screen resolution will also determine how big the picture appears to you when viewing it on your computer.

A monitor set to 1024 x 768 will show a 1024 pixel wide by 800-pixel tall image as a full-screen image. On a monitor that is 1920x 1080 the image will only take part of the screen. Long story short, the image will look much smaller on that screen even though the image is the same size because the screen has higher resolution.

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.

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.


300dpi example


72dpi example

Hopefully this has helped you get a little clearer on the differences between DPI, PPI, resolution and why if you have someone do something for you in print there will be different requirements than for the web. It’s also why that digital camera with higher megapixels takes better pictures than one with lower (lenses and other factors being equal) because it gives you more resolution to capture more detail.

Another important note about monitors, even though 72dpi is standard for the web, monitors have slightly different resolutions depending on how you have the monitor set and how big the monitor is. For example, a 19″ monitor set to 1024×768 will show 70ppi (pixels per inch, monitors use pixels which are square, not round but pixels and dots for the sake of this conversation are otherwise analogous). By comparison, a 19″ monitor set to 1280×1024 will have a resolution of 87ppx which means you fit more on the screen and get more detail, but everything looks smaller.

Sidebar: image files with higher resolution (more dpi) will also have a bigger file size because they contain more data. Start with the biggest images you can but when putting images on the web they should be set to 72dpi, it’ll save you a ton of bandwidth and they’ll load faster. Yes, they’ll be smaller than the original but should in most cases be plenty big because of monitor resolution (ppi) sizes.

One last thing, don’t confuse “image size” with “file size.” Image size refers to the dimensions of the image while file size is how much space the image takes up on a hard drive (kilobytes or megabytes).

Any more questions on DPI, PPI, Resolution? Ask in the comments and we’ll try to clarify.


  1. June on October 27, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for clarifying the issue around optimizing images for web and print.

    Our company is moving to single-source publishing for one of our products. The documents are created and maintained in Word and run through an HTML conversion process for the online version and converted to PDF for print publishing. With this in mind, how should we optimize the images used in the document to ensure print quality AND keep file size at a minimum for downloading. Our print publishing coordinator would like to see the files stay at 300 dpi, but is that reasonable?



  2. Scott Ellis on October 28, 2009 at 7:46 am

    June, That is a good question! Since I never really do that I’ll give you the best answer I can but there may be better alternatives. I can see two ways to go about that:

    1. Create your newsletter in Word with full resolution images (300dpi) and convert that to a pdf for printing. Assuming no settings in Word or Acrobat are set to change anything you should get 300dpi images in your pdf so it’s print ready. Next, convert the PDF to HTML (rather than the word doc). This is where I throw out my disclaimer, I don’t really know of a great utility for converting a PDF it to HTML while maintaining formatting, optimizing images all the while spitting out text/html not just full images of the PDF pages. I would there there has to be a utility to do that but I don’t know of one. I would ask your printer if they know of anything. The key (in the case of this discussion) is to find a utility that also spits out the images at a web ready 72dpi. They won’t be perfectly optimized but should be sufficient.

    2. You can always run 2 work flows. Gather your iamges, write your text. Drop your text and full resolution images into Word to create your high-quality PDF. Create a second version of your pics scaled to 72dpi and drop those into your html newsletter, content management system,… along with the same text and you’re done. Two branches of the same stuff. You’ll end up with two sets of images and it is more work but you’ll have much more control over the output and get exactly what you want on print and web. Personally, I keep multiple copies of lot’s of images for this very reason and once you get it down it’s not that big of a deal. For some additional hints see my other post “Easily Resize Images for the Web and Email which might give you some ways to more rapidly optimize your images.

    Hope this helps and let us know if you come up with another/better way to do this! I’m sure lots of people have the same issue.

  3. June on October 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Scott, thank you so much for your immediate and detailed response. I’ll present these options to our print production and web coordinators and see what they think.

    I know that 72 dpi is the standard for web, but do you think it would be really awful to insert compressed JPEGs at 300 dpi into the web document? Or perhaps look at 150 dpi as a compromise?


    • Scott Ellis on October 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

      June, happy to help and another good question. The real issue is that if you keep our images at higher resolution than 72dpi the file sizes will be bigger. It may not affect the users experience viewing it on a monitor (better or worse) but the pictures will take longer to download, your page “weight” will be unnecessarily high, you’ll use more bandwidth (which can mean increased hosting costs) and theoretically page load times (which will be longer because of the larger than necessary images) has been linked to SEO (only one of many factors but I tend to believe it does have some effect). It can also lead to a higher bounce rate on your site or people not having the patience to wait for things to load. By themselves, none of those factors may be huge but added up they matter. Image optimization is very important on the web.

      You may also have copyright considerations. Probably not a big issue but without knowing more about your situation, someone is less likely to utilize one of your images in print if it is a low resolution than if you provide them a full high-res image. I’m now stretching it a bit but without knowing more about your business it “could” be a factor as well.

  4. June on October 28, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks for your response, Scott. You’ve laid out some really good points to consider. I’ve never come across information related to page load times and SEO, but it is definitely worth looking into. In any case, you’ve given me a lot to work with.

    Much appreciation,


  5. roboto on November 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Hello Scott,

    Interesting article. I am programmer and have little knowledge on preaparing images for print. But now I must preapare some newsletter for print. There is little problem, I have one banner that have 72DPI resolution, and that have to be in header on every page. Is there any way in which I can preapare this image to correctly show in print ?

  6. Scott Ellis on November 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    roboto – unfortunately you can’t really go up without loosing resolution. The only way you can get the image you are looking for is to start with the originals and work at a higher resolution. There are (supposedly) ways of resolving “up” but I think they really just fake it, which in some cases might work but I’ve never really played with them since the results I’ve seen always still looked less than optimal.

    All that said, if your 72 dpi banner is big enough you might be able to get away with it but if it was originally prepared for web use you might be out of luck.

  7. Cindy on November 24, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Hi and thanks for the great article!

    I need to design some small ‘iconic’ images that will display for the company if they choose to print them and use them for web.

    Can you please tell me: If I design in CYMK at 300dpi – then use Photoshop to convert the images to sRGB at 72dpi – will they be useful for both print and web purposes? (I’m using black and white)

    Thanks a bunch!!!

  8. Cindy on November 24, 2009 at 3:09 am

    I should clarify.

    If I save the original set (CMYK,300dpi)then use the ‘Save for Web’ function in Photoshop to make a second ‘set’ (convering to sRGB and 72ppi), then provide them with a Print Set and Web set of images – I’m certain the print set will be fine – but is that all I need to do to make sure the web set will be fine also?


  9. Scott Ellis on November 24, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Cindy – Let me start off by saying I’ve never used the “Save for Web” stuff in PS (which version BTW?). I would assume that will work fine but make sure your web images come out big enough, when they get converted to 72ppi they’ll be smaller than their 300dpi counterparts.

  10. Cindy on November 24, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Thank-you Scott. That’s what I’d gathered, guess I was wondering if there is a way to convert print images for web without changing the size. (Otherwise I have to design each one from scratch twice.) Do you know of a way or do designers just design from scratch each image, one for print, one for web?

    (Photoshop is CS4) Appreciate your help!

  11. Scott Ellis on November 24, 2009 at 3:03 pm


    I just start with images that are sufficiently large. Since you can always shrink it down but you can’t (effectively go up). So you should only have to create 1 image and then size it accordingly.

  12. Cindy on November 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to advise – suppose I’ll learn by doing. Have yourself a great day!

  13. James Ballard on November 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Here is the low down:

    1. Printing: You always want twice the resolution of whatever your output device. Most computer printers output at 85 dpi so your files need to be 170 dpi at 100%. 150 dpi is a magazine standard which means your files should be 300 dpi. If you go into a high-end art magazine, your files could be as high as 600dpi.

    Always check with the specs from the printer.

    2. Image Size: Your images within your file need to be at the right resolution when printed at 100%. So if you are designing a magazine page, all your images should be 300dpi at 100%.

    Now if you have an image that is 150dpi, you can use that image reduced in size 50% or lower. Anything over 50% will not look good. Conversely an image that is 600dpi can be increased up 200% with no degradation.

    I will make all my images the right resolution in photoshop so I am not constantly doing the math with different-sized images.

    ALSO, if you have an image at 100% but you need to tweak it bigger, you have about 10% wiggle room before the image starts to degrade.

    3. Web : The lowest standard 72 dpi at 100%

    • Scott Ellis on November 24, 2009 at 7:39 pm

      James – Awesome response! Thank you… always good to be in the presence of a true expert.

  14. Cindy on November 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Yes, thanks a bunch for your very informative post!! Probably could have paid $100.00 for a workshop which taught little more than that – appreciate your time! I feel much better about d.p.i now… but wondering if I should have taken this job at all when spending hours reading tuts on color modes and file formats for print vs. web images.

    My client wants a set of images she can a)drop into a word processing program and print on a home printer b) drop in a word processing program and print professionally and c)use as part of a web-site design.

    In a new document created in CMYK for print, Photoshop will only save in .tiff, .pdf or a photoshop variant file type. A .tiff won’t drop into Microsoft Office Word and I’ve read many apps. do not support its format. The only way to save as a .png (which lets me drop into a word processing program is to use the Save for Web and Mobile Devices function – which seems fine except it changes the color to RGB (and dpi to 72 but I can rework that later).

    This is off the topic of this thread but getting a little anxious here so thought I’d try asking anyhow: Will RGB or sRGB (when using black and white) work with home printing and professional printing although it is not ideal? If not.. is telling Photoshop ‘do not manage the color in this document’ an option?

    (The creative stuff is fun but I suppose anyone can do it. Its the technical aspects I’ll be going to school to learn…)

    Best Regards,

  15. Brian on December 8, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks for the clear article Scott. I have a different question. I am having rare manuscripts digitized onto CD, but the director of the archive is limiting the resolution of my images to 150 dpi because she is afraid that I might simply print the manuscript and add it to an existing library, like that of a university. My concern is that 150 dpi resolution will be too low for the handwritten text to be legible on my screen. They are essentially digitizing a standard-size 12-inch book, with black handwritten ink, and I will be reading it in Adobe Reader at 100% zoom either on a 15-inch or 24-inch widescreen monitor (though I do hope to have the ability to zoom in on some words that are especially difficult to read). Bottom line: do you think 150 dpi will read legibly?

    Thanks very much for your time,

    Department of History
    UC Berkeley

  16. Scott Ellis on December 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm


    As James mentioned 150dpi is magazine standard (so ideally your files would be 300) but black text on a white background should be easily readable at 150 dpi. Most of what has been discussed here is photographic types of images with much finer detail that what you would experience with black & white text. I think you’ll be fine. It may not be optimal but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble reading it.

  17. Diane Kitchen on March 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Scott,
    I will be printing out a photo image to have a print size of 21 x 15.5″. In photoshop it now has a resolution of 1000. Before printing I will be superimposing a text article that currently has a resolution of 600 (and image size 30 x 25.6″ in photoshop). When printed, the text is supposed to be smaller than the picture. I have tested the superimposition of these two files in photoshop and the sizing and spacing appear correct on the desktop. Are these two files compatible for printing? Or do they need to have identical resolution, etc?
    Many thanks, Diane

  18. Scott Ellis on March 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Diane, look at the dpi resolution for each image. When you say “resolution of 1000 or 600” I assume you mean dimensions. If they are both 300dpi (for example) then you're doing an apples-to-apples comparison, if one is 300dpi and the other 72dpi you'll have issues.

    Since they are both in photoshop you should be able to merge them and see whether the proportions are what you want. This is particularly true if the text is still in vector format and hasn't be rasterized yet.

  19. Diane Kitchen on March 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Scott, you're correct, the resolution I referred to was dimensions-ppi. How do I determine the dpi of each image?

    Rasterizing doesn't appear to be an issue. The text was scanned as a picture document and worked on as such.

    I did merge the two and the proportions are exactly what I want. I guess the clear way to ask the question is: Will the merged image print out the way it appears on the screen?

    Thanks again, Diane

  20. serena on July 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Hi scott,

    I'm currently working on a 4m x 4m project that's to be printed on sticker.
    I made a big blunder by accidentally vectoring my work in illustrator file 72 dpi, and I copied and pasted the vectors on to photoshop to edit and but the photoshop file is in 300 dpi. Will it be clear? or would it still be pixelated when printed ūüôĀ .
    Hope to hear from you very soon!


    • Scott Ellis on December 2, 2010 at 10:00 am

      Serena, If you go from 72 dpi to 300 dpi you’re probably going to loose a substantial amount of quality, it depend slightly on the over all size but it sounds like you’ll run into issues with that. (sorry for the bad news!)

  21. Ellie King on December 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I have a photo that I have edited for a friend who is wanting to print a 13×20 canvas of it but is concerned resolution will be lost. The photo is 1427×1997. I realize this is not the ideal size but will it look absolutely horrible blown up to a 13×20? I printed it out in a 12×18 and it looked great. How much resolution will be lost with the added few inches?

    Thank you, Ellie

    • Scott Ellis on December 2, 2010 at 10:04 am

      Ellie, As a rule, you can size an image up to a max of about 10% and it’ll still look ok, particularly if you worked at sufficiently high dpi. So you could realistically go from 12×18 to 13.2×19.8 in before you start to see degradation, so you are right on the boarder. Depending on the image, you might see a little loss (particularly around edges in the pictures where there is notable color change). The higher the dpi, the better luck you should have. E.g. you’ll look better at 300dpi than 72dpi.

      Good luck and let us know how it turns out.


  22. […] publication will struggle to print it without unacceptable loss of quality (there’s plenty of great advice online on this subject, so read up on the […]

  23. […] 5. Understand the difference between print and web resolution. The only caveat to the previous tip is this one – you must¬†understand the difference between a¬†file that is print-ready¬†versus web-ready.¬†Be sure that if you are planning on printing¬†the piece¬†being designed, you’ve purchased¬†images and provided your¬†logo/photo¬†in a format that will be¬†crisp and clear. Essentially this means that any photo/artwork included should be at least 300 pixels or dots/inch(dpi)¬†– if your piece is only intended for the¬†web than the dpi can be lower.Click here to visit a site that effectively explains resolution for all of us who don’t necess… […]

  24. grace kan on March 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Hi scott,
    I got a confuse question although has been doing the search.
    Is it same DPI requirement for both pics and text on print? What is the basically dpi for printing text to achieve readability or even better quality, in terms of 300 dpi is the standard for photo print.

    • Scott Ellis on March 14, 2011 at 8:06 am


      I believe it would be the same for text. While text may scale differently, when it comes to printing your’re dropping bits of ink on to paper and “resolution” doesn’t know (or care) if it’s ink to create a text character or drop of sky. It’s all “images” at that point. (in conventional terms anyway).

      As for true “typeography” I’m definitely not an expert but there are a lot of good resources online if you search that term.

      • grace kan on March 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

        Thanks Scott,
        Yeh,,, Im currently doing a research about the typography on print design and screen design. And my area of practise is User Interface. I was doing product design for years though. I have seen you are good at mobile app right. Im looking for some live briefs to strength my understanding of UI. I was wondering if you have some briefs about interface design and could show me one?

        • Scott Ellis on March 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

          Grace, unfortunately I don’t have any briefs on Mobile UI design. Most of the work I’ve been doing around that would be considered proprietary anyway and I’m not allowed to share it publicly.

          On a side note, if you’re interested in typography you might be interested in watching “Helvetica” (Netflix it if you can). Interesting documentary on typography and they importance of “Helvetica” in particular.

  25. Jessica on March 29, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I have designed a website and am now working to code it. I have always known that 72dpi is the way to go for screen images, but just because I happened to try it, when I save my background imagery as 150dpi and preview the site- it is exactly the size and clarity I want the viewer to see. When I load the background image at 72dpi it is not crisp and there is text areas that are no longer legible. Can I design the site at 150dpi or is the a better way to get that size and clarity with 72dpi? I worry also that at higher dpi the load time may be longer? Hope you can help!


    • Scott Ellis on March 29, 2011 at 8:06 pm


      Couple of things could be going on here. (I’ll do my best based on what I know).

      You’re creating/editing an image at 150 so when you switch to 72 one of two things has to happen…either the image will shrink (dimensions, not file size) by about 50% (slightly more) or it will loose clarity (if you keep it at the same dimensions). It sounds like #2 is what is happening. You should be able to get sufficient clarity by starting at 72dpi and creating the images you want.

      At 150dpi your load times will certainly be longer b/c you now have [about] 2x as much info per pixel on your image as you need. The load time alone is a reason to make sure you’re working at 72dpi from the start. Again, once you start at 150 you’ll either have to change image dimensions or loose that sharpness.

      If you want to send me a couple example images (or the originals to look at) I’ll be happy to take a quick glace… let me know and I’ll shoot you an email.

      Also, what are you editing in? Photoshop?


  26. Kim on March 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I have a question about dpi. I recently did a baby photoshoot for a friend but I didn’t realize that my camera had been switched from large memory to medium. All of my photos ended up being around 2MB and 72 dpi when I uploaded them to PSE7. I increased the dpi to 300 which in turn increased the size of the photos to around 18MB on average…but by doing that will I still get quality prints or are they going to be fuzzy or out of focus? I just need to know if my friend is going to be able to print anything from the session. I’m so frustrated that I didn’t check my camera’s setting in the first place!

    Thanks for your help,

    • Scott Ellis on March 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      Kim –

      Easy mistake to make, just remember it! As for your question…

      If your client tries to print the images at the same size for the 72dpi as they normally would be able to get from 300 they’ll loose quality and noticeably so. It doesn’t mean the images won’t print at a decent size but you’re more likely to get a good 4×6 or 5×7 (for example, I don’t know the actual dimensions) than you will at 18×24 at comparable quality.

      Technically you can change the image after to 300dpi but you’re not really accomplishing what you would like.

      Remember you can always go “down” in res, you can’t really go up without loosing something…



  27. Mia on April 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I have a photo that I need printed at 20X24. I’ve sized it in PSE5 for 6000X7200 @ 300dpi. For some reason the image is super wide now.(almost looks distorted when compared to the original) Will it look like that when it is printed or is my screen playing with me? If is isn’t my screen, how do I fix it? I SO need help! ūüôĀ Hope you can!

    • Mia on April 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      oops! Sorry, I think I figured it out. Darn constrained proportions!

      • Scott Ellis on April 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm

        No problem Mia… glad you figured it out.

  28. Bala on April 7, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Is there any calculation to get the correct pixel value equivalent to the print size of the image.
    For e.g. I’ve an image with the following measurements

    Geometry: 933x3486px
    Resolution: 500×500
    Print size: 1.866×6.972
    Units: PixelsPerInch

    The 933x3486px is very bigger than the print size in browser view, So i need 1.866×6.972inches equivalent pixel value to get the exact print size in browser view .


    • Scott Ellis on April 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Bala, In order to accomplish exactly what you want you’ll need to either resize the image or change the dpi (note, you can go down in dpi but not up (technically you can but you’ll loose resolution). You need to know what dpi you are currently at to make this work. Assuming your image is 300dpi to start with, resize to 559×2091 and that should get you there. Give it a try but make sure to keep an original copy that the original sizes!

  29. Practice » Blog Archive » dpi photos on May 13, 2011 at 7:33 am

    […] Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images Aug 10, 2009 … All of my photos ended up being around 2MB and 72 dpi when I uploaded them to PSE7. … […]

  30. Naftali Klein on November 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    wonderfull article and well written!

    Question: you have provided 2 sample picture showing the difference between a 300 and 72 DPI,
    If web pages will always display pictures in 72 DPI then both pictures should have been displayed with the same quality just the 300 DPI should be strached to a much bigger size to create a 72 DPI

    • Scott Ellis on December 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

      Naftall –

      You are correct but the point was simply to illustrate the difference in detail that can be accomplished at various resolution which I think it illustrates… however another example such as the one you suggested would also be helpful.

      • Domino on September 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        I think what she wrote almost answered my question.
        I’m doing a lot of graphics mixed with photographic art to complete my
        web images No Print.
        I want to share these with my web viewers
        displaying the highest level of detail possible
        and with the highest level of quality possible is very important
        If I upload a 288 DPI image (size=1152 x 1152) to my server
        When my viewer visits that image on the web page
        will that image display at the original 288 DPI (Size=1152×1152) ?
        or will it display at 72 DPI (size=1152×1152) ?
        or maybe even 72 DPI (size=288×288) ?
        Regardless of the uploaded DPI value
        will the web forever reduce my image’s quality to
        I…….:( I hate sevens when they with two’s

        I sincerely appreciate your insight. Love your blog.
        thank you

        • Scott Ellis on October 3, 2013 at 10:22 am


          The only place an image with that high resolution will stand out is if someone is using a retina (or a few other) high resolution screens. For the web 72 or 96 is still generally optimal with a different image still being served up for people on Retina displays. The reason is, you want to see the high quality on Retina but if someone is on a “regular” screen they won’t see all the added detail but the file size they have to download is significantly larger because of all of the extra data. If you are serving up image specifically for retina, try 2x your chosen webstandard and save 300dpi for print.

  31. j on February 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    what do you suggest for the tarp size 96in x 40in?

    • Scott Ellis on May 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

      J – not sure what you mean? In terms of DPI?

  32. […] help understanding print vs web images or asking questions like “what is dpi?”¬†Learn something new every […]

  33. Inna on July 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Dear Scott!
    Thank you for your article!
    I have a question, I hope you’ll help me to understand.

    If I have to give the client a photo for viewing on a monitor, what settings should I choose?
    If I do not know in advance – what is the screen resolution, what size. It is important that the photo was not too “heavy” and that it can be placed entirely on the big screen.

    If I give the following settings in Photoshop CS 5.1:
    w – 1920 pix
    h – 1200 pix
    resolution – 72 ppi

    They will be sufficient? Or should increase the resolution up to 150 ppi?

    Photos – not for online posting, but for home viewing on a monitor.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Scott Ellis on July 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Inna, Those numbers should work fine in terms of resolution/size. If it’s a standard computer monitor 72ppi or 96ppi.

      However, with the new Apple “Retina” display, if you wanted resolution to look sharp you would need 326ppi.

      You might also create your .jpg images and then run them through http://jpegmini.com they’ll look as good but it’ll shrink the file size nicely.

    • Scott Ellis on July 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Inna, Those numbers should work fine in terms of resolution/size. If it’s a standard computer monitor 72ppi or 96ppi.

      However, with the new Apple “Retina” display, you wanted resolution to look sharp you would need 326ppi.

      You might also create your .jpg images and then run them through http://jpegmini.com they’ll look as good but it’ll shrink the file size nicely.

  34. Cled Click on August 31, 2012 at 6:13 am

    I present ocular photo lectures at State Conventions for Optometrists. Is there an “optimum” resolution or “size” to save photos to either 1) show on a computer monitor; or, 2) for an LCD projector?

    What I’ve been doing is resizing the finished photo in PhotoShop to the native size of my computer screen… that is usually either 1024×768 or higher (depending on the monitor) and save at a resolution of 8 (out of 12 in PhotoShop). This typically results in a file SIZE of around 250-350kb instead of huge 2-3megapixel size file.

    I’m aware that the bigger file SIZE would result in significantly better PRINTED photos… but that is NOT what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to resize and save photos in the optimum size that will PROJECT or SHOW good detail yet still be fast to move from disk to screen.

    My thinking is that saving photos at the same resolution as the native screen dimensions SHOULD result in good detail while still being fast to download. I typically use Power Point for the actual presentation. And saving photos at 1024×768 (or larger) still results in photos that LOOK good and are still FAST to download into PowerPoint.

    I can’t SEE any material difference on a computer monitor or projection between files saved at FULL size out of a 18mp camera and the same photo reduced to 1024×768. But if you want to PRINT the photo there is a HUGE difference in quality between the two file sizes.

    Any suggestions for doing it better?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have.

    Dr. Click

    • Scott Ellis on August 31, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Dr. Click,

      One think you can do is change the DPI of the raw images from whatever they are out of the camera (180dpi is common) down to 72. That will also change the file dimensions (down) out of the gate but still leave it large enough to work with and will save you a ton of file size (speed).

      From there you can resize to down 1024 which should be sufficient for most of your presentations.

      On a monitor you won’t notice much difference and since you’re not printing I wouldn’t worry about it.

      As for the photoshop setting, I usually go for 10 but it really depends on the specific image. Some will still look fine at 6 while others may have noticeable quality loss or pixelation at 10. I’d stick with what has been working but adjust for any images if there is a noticeable quality drop. The good thing about presentations is that most projectors aren’t as bright as your monitor, and people are in a room further away, so a slight loss is quality is less perceptible anyway.

      The other thing you can do is save at 10 in PS, then take the file out to http://jpegmini.com and run it through them. You’ll be amazed at how much smaller they can make your images without any perceptible loss in quality.

      Hope that helps.

  35. Joyce on September 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Hi Scott, I am a decorative painter and would like to build a website myself. For me, photos are everything. I have many photos of my work, mostly shot with a Sony Bloggie. I am just discovering the whole idea of 72 dpi. How can I be sure my photos are acceptable for a website? And can they be converted if the are not 72 dpi? I would appreciate your help! Thanks for a great resource for questions.

    • Scott Ellis on September 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      You can definitely convert from higher dpi to lower (e.g. from 180 to 72) but not the other way around. They will also shrink in dimensions when you do so make sure you start off with images that are large enough. High DPI images will show just fine on the web but will take up a lot more space and slow your site loading down which is not idea for a lot of reasons.

      Caveat: with the new Retina Apple Displays, higher DPI images are going to be more common but if you want to account for retina and keep things small make your images 72dpi but 3x the dimensions if you can.

      I almost always use jpegmini.com to optimize my images further now.

      To convert them from high dpi to low you’ll need some kind of tool like Photoshop (which would be overkill for only this purpose but something like Paintshop Pro might be more accessible and affordable).

      Hope this helps a little. Let me know if you have more questions.

      Also, if you’re just getting started building a site take a look at Site Setup Kit. They’ve done a great job of making it easy to get a site up and running. Not sure if it’ll be the look you’re looking for but give it a look.

  36. Nah on October 20, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Thank you for the very useful information.
    I was wondering if you could tell me on how to go about preparing print ready ebooks that are all destined to be printed on A4 but the book will be A5 (half A4).
    Do you know of a tool that would take raw text and prepare the ebooks in such format making sure that enough gutter is left and also collating the pages so that the left and right side of the A4 paper make the two sides of the book….

    • Scott Ellis on October 20, 2012 at 7:27 am

      Nah, Unfortunately I do not. That is really well outside my expertise.

  37. albert on November 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Dear Scott,
    I want to print a high quality portfolio. All the images would be of 12” X 8″. My 14 MP D-SLR provides sufficient resolution for the mentioned prints at 300dpi. But, some of the photos are cropped for aesthetic purposes. These photos, therefore can only provide prints upto 9″ X 6″ at 300dpi. Now my question is, for 12” X 8” prints, should I upscale the resolution to print at 300dpi or downscale at 250dpi and keep the resolution unchanged.

    Please explain me the effects of both the methods.

    Thank you,

    • Scott Ellis on December 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm


      It’s not clear to me why you’re considering upscaling dpi but perhaps what you mean is simply changing the size? Either way, if you go up you will loose quality. Depending on how much you go up it may or may not ber perceptible so I’d experiment first and see. In my experience you can increase a photo by about 10%, depending on the content, before the lower quality becomes noticable. But that is just a guideline, every photo will be different.

      If you want the highest possible quality, I’d print a 9×6 at the native resolution (not clear to me if it’s already at 300 or 250).

      • albert on December 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

        Thanks for the reply. What I meant is, I somehow want to print at 12X8 (so that the portfolio doesn’t look uneven). Is it fine if I just increase (upscale) the photos to match 12X8 (considering the upscale is <=10%)

        Or is it worth to increase the pixel size (making effective print resolution less than 300dpi), which will eventually increase the image resolution and then I can print at 12X8 (albeit, at lower dpi).


  38. chris peterson on January 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I need to purchase a photo scanner to scan old photos from my parents. Can you tell me what features I should be looking for and what dpi is best? what brand? I don’t want to spend a fortune for this scanner but don’t want to buy one that the photos won’t be clear either.
    thank you,

    • Scott Ellis on January 7, 2013 at 9:24 am


      I’m not really an expert on scanners but here’s what I’d recommend. You want a scanner that will do up to 600dpi and depending on how many photos you have you may want one that will feed batches of photos, or at least allow you to easily hand feed them through. I’ve used one similar to this Kodak photo scanner in the past and it worked well (bought for my dad and he scanned all the old family photos and they turned out great).

      Something like that is meant for photo’s and should cost you under $100.

      Hope that helps.


      • chris peterson on January 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

        thank you Scott, this is very helpful

        • andy wilson on March 11, 2013 at 11:34 am


          Very useful article – thanks. I’m producing artwork for print that is 300dpi but I want to incorporate one drawing that is 72 dpi. The whole piece is made up of pencil-type drawings and has a rough and ready style. So – difficult for you to answer since you’ve not seen it – is the 72 dpi bit likely to fit in ok?



          • Scott Ellis on March 25, 2013 at 10:01 am

            Andy, Produce it at 300dpi but knock it down to 72 for the web (save as a different version). Remember, you can keep the dimensions the same (e.g. 500px wide and 500px high). Uploading a 300dpi photo just means more data that the web browser won’t show slowing things down for now reason.

          • andy wilson on March 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

            Thanks Scott. That answers it.

  39. tina on March 25, 2013 at 4:52 am

    if a client wanted a JPG for a website Viewing only rather than a web site printing, would you give them a 300ppi or a 72ppi image? Why?

    • Scott Ellis on March 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Tina –

      Give them 72 but make sure the dimensions are what they need. If you use photoshop you can control all of those parameters under Image > Image Size.

      300 will only make the file size bigger with no added benefit for web-browsing which will slow down their website.

      I’d also run the image through http://jpegmini.com to decrease the file size further (file size only, it won’t change dimensions).

      • titi on March 30, 2013 at 5:52 am

        if we use the pic only for web, i think the dimension is only related to pixel size, but ppi. 300×200 pixel pics with either 72 ppi or 300ppi are the same dimension and image size on the web. correct me if i am wrong. Thank you

        • Scott Ellis on March 30, 2013 at 8:35 am

          Titi, you are correct. You can have a 300×200 pixel image at 72 dpi or 300 dpi. No typical reason on the web to use 300, just make it a 72 dpi image.

          But keep in mind if you have an image that is 300×200 at 300dpi and change the setting to 72 dpi it may shrink the image depending on the application you use, so be sure to reset the pixel dimensions to 300×200 before saving.

  40. Dollie on April 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    70dpi= ? (width n height)…plz tell me.

    • Scott Ellis on April 6, 2013 at 8:39 am


      Can’t tell by what you’ve given me. How many pixels wide and tall is it?

      If your image is 700 wide by 630 tall, then you would divide both of those numbers by 70 to get 10 inches wide b 9 inches tall.

      If you were at 300 dpi (printing resolution) then your image would be 2.33 inches high by 2.1 inches wide.

  41. Arps on April 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Scott

    Can you please help me? I am researching wedding photographers and most as part of their packages offer ‘high resolution print ready’ images on a CD OR DVD. Can you tell me what size photos I should be expecting I know I am not being done over?

    Thank you in advance for your guidance!

    • Scott Ellis on April 13, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Depends entirely on what you want from them and what your plans are for printing.

      For maximum quality you want 300dpi resolution. As for size… are you planning to print a 5×9, or something larger.

      So if for example your photographer is shooting with a Canon 5DMk II camera, the camera shoots 21.1 megapixels (5,616 √ó 3,744 pixels) which at 300dpi would translate into an 18.72″ by 12.72″ print. But you’ll really need to talk to the photographers and get the specifics on what they provide and line that up against what you are hoping to get.

      As far as the web display goes, you’ll drop the image to 72 dpi but will still have plenty of size.

      That camera is what John P. shot our wedding pictures with. You can see them here.

      • Arps on April 13, 2013 at 9:39 am

        I can’t thank you enough Scott, very much appreciated.


  42. tonie on April 17, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Help. Doubt you’ll get this in time. I’m creating a photo book and am in an awful time crunch. The company that will be printing the photo book says the photos should be 1600×2000 and adjust the dpi accordingly. I’m scanning in photos using an Epson scanner. It asked for resolution, and when I set it at 1600 it tells me that seems way too big. Am very confused. Is 600 dpi enough to send photos to shutterfly to print in a book? Help please.

    • Scott Ellis on April 17, 2013 at 11:10 am


      I think you’re confusing dpi with image size. What you need for them is an image that is 300dpi resolution at 1600 x 2000 (side dimensions).

      If you’re using Photoshop you can change all of those settings in Image > Size. But keep in mind you need to start with images that are at least those dimensions to start with. If you take a 300dpi image that’s 1200 x 1600 and try to make it 1600 x 2000 you’ll degrade the quality. You can go down but not up.

      Hope that helps.

  43. Ai & it's measuring nonsense on June 20, 2013 at 1:50 am

    […] is a whole big kerfuffle: Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web ImagesLong story short: Try 96dpi for straight web work. Or 300 down to 96 for something that might have […]

  44. Donna on June 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I have been asked to submit a picture for a magazine at 300 dpi. My camera (Canon EOS 60D) shoots 70 dpi) How do I change that for the magazine’s purposes?

    • Scott Ellis on June 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Donna – The 60D will actually shoot at 240dpi in RAW mode. Shoot in raw and then import the pics into Photoshop (or whatever tool you use). You won’t likely see a difference when you’re looking at it on your computer but you will when it prints out. In this case, DPI is just telling the image how to pack the information together.

      Now, you might be able to change existing images that are 72dpi to 300dpi in photoshop but they’ll print much smaller so depending on the original image dimensions it might be too small for the magazine.

  45. Liz on July 17, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Hi Scott,

    Great article and very informative. I have a questions around pixels. I am helping a friend who is a photographer create a web banner for Etsy and hired a graphic artist to design it. The original photo was 1950 x 1288 pixels and needed to be resized/reduced to 760 x 100 pixels. So the graphic artist cropped it and also zoomed on the image. My photography friend isn’t happy with the quality or clarity and thinks it needs to be digitally enhanced. So can that be done or is there an explaination I can provide her as to why the image quality change when reduced – either regarding the pixels or dpi?

    Many thanks,

    • Scott Ellis on July 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Liz – Not following exactly what happened there but what I would have done would be to shrink the image to the required size first. If you’re using Photoshop, resize the image to 760 wide and constrain proportions (check box) and PS will automatically set it to the proportional height.

      Next, I would crop the image using 100% of the width and 100px of height and move your selection up or down to get the area you want. It can get a little tough since you’re also changing aspect ratios but not much you can do about that.

      It sounds like they cropped it then zoomed in on a part of the image which could definitely reduce the quality. Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be a “digital enhance” that will make it better. You’ll have to start over with the original image and follow the steps I outlined above.

      Hope that helps.

      • Liz on July 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        Scott, thank you for taking time to get back to me – much appreciated.

        I talked to the graphic artist and he said he simply makes a blank Photoshop document at the pixel dimensions it needs to be at 72 dpi. Then opens the high rez original file next to it and drag it in as a layer. Then resizes the layer, making it smaller to fit within the new document. AND never scales up because of degradation – the ‚Äúzooming‚ÄĚ you are warning about.

        Honestly, the banner looks fine to me but my photography friend thinks the quality and clarity is off. So not sure it is her monitor or she doesn’t understand it is going to change because it was reduced and lost pixels.

        Thanks again!
        I talk to the graphic artist and he said he

  46. Edgar on September 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Hi, my question may have already been answered before but just for clarification, if I’m working on a 28×22 inch poster that’s going to be printed at 300dpi, it would be impossible for me to use images that are at 72 dpi right? When I stretch out a 72 dpi image for a 300 dpi poster it looks terrible, but when the actual poster gets printed out, wouldn’t the poster itself be smaller than it looks on my computer screen? Because at 300 dpi, the entire poster on my screen looks really huge.

    If so would the stretched out 72 dpi images look as bad as they do my screen, which has a resolution of 1366x 768.

    That’s really my question, the image quality looks bad on my screen, will it look THAT bad when it gets printed out?


    • Scott Ellis on September 13, 2013 at 10:42 am


      Every instance is a little different but in general, yes, if a 72 dpi image looks bad on your screen it’s going to look bad when you print, especially if you print it at full size (28×22). It will print smaller than it looks on your computer screen but if you’re telling the printer to print at 28×22 it will but with an image that is only 72 dpi.

      • Edgar on September 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Sorry I’m little confused with the last thing you said: “if you‚Äôre telling the printer to print at 28√ó22 it will but with an image that is only 72 dpi.” I won’t be doing the printing, but all I know is that the entire poster itself has to be 300 dpi.

        But either way, when I copy and paste a 72 dpi image that’s 55 x 38 inches into a 300 dpi poster that’s 28×22 inches, the 55×38/72 dpi image looks really small compare to 28×22/300dpi image. If i stretch out the 58×38 image, the quality of the image will decrease. So there’s just no way around this right? When it gets printed out, it won’t look any better, it will look just as bad as it does on screen, even if it prints smaller than it looks on my screen.

        And also thanks for replying back to me.


        • Scott Ellis on September 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm

          Edgar –

          I don’t see a way around it since you’re starting out with a 72dpi image. In Photoshop you can try this (but can’t be sure it’ll work well).

          Image Size > Image Size
          With your 72dpi 55×38 image change the dpi to 300
          then change the dimensions to 28×22

          Now, if the image your starting with looks bad there is no fixing that. If it only looks bad when you try to resize this might give you better results but the issue you’re really facing here is that you’re starting with less “data” than you need to print at the resolution you want.

          And you’re welcome.. I try to reply to everyone!

          • Edgar on September 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

            Okay, well thanks, I appreciate your time and help.


  47. Sophie on October 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Hi Scott,

    I was wondering if you could clear something up for me.
    When you originally wrote this article in 2009 – optimum print dpi was 300 and web dp was 72 or 96.
    You state not to use 300 dpi for web due to SEO purposes and loading time, however 4 years on and the internet speeds have increased somewhat dramatically.
    With quicker internet speeds, whats the largest dpi would you now recommend for both print and web to get quality images?

    Thank you,


    • Scott Ellis on October 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm


      While the idea of a 72dpi monitor is a misnomer, most web images are still uploaded at 72 dpi to keep the file size down. Speed still matters. Ideally, you want your page to load (or at least appear to do so to the user) in 2sec or less (general rule, not written in stone). DPI is actually a print convention and has less bearing on monitor viewing than you might think in most cases.

      When I first started building sites the convention was to try and keep page weight to 50k or under. Now it’s more like 1M (again, a guideline, not a law). But we use a lot more javascript, bigger images, etc… that also adds to the page weight. So we really have kept up with the increase in bandwidth, it just a matter of how you use it. Personally I like big images so I try to keep pages light so I can use bigger images as the visual anchor.

  48. dan on January 10, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Hi ive created a template in photoshop the idea is to print out the template and glue onto wood then cut around the template. The problem im having now its time to print, one of the templates measures 110mm x 85mm as by the photoshop ruler but when I print its really tiny I need it to print off to the same measurements in photoshop so the printed version is 110mm x 85mm. Any suggestions? Cheers Dan

    • Scott Ellis on January 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Dan, the only think I can suggest is to make sure you’re DPI is set to at least 300.

  49. […] Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images […]

  50. Wade Hines on February 7, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Thank you for the article. I have a question. If a photographer sends me a HUGE files (78 inches x 50 Inches) at 72 DPI, can I change it to 300 in Photoshop and then make the photo A LOT smaller and still achieve the same resolution? Or is it stuck at 72 DPI once it’s there? I am not sure whether the camera was set properly or what. Please let me know your thoughts on this. Thank you!

    • Scott Ellis on February 23, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Depends on how much you are going to shrink it down. DPI is a print output so you may be able to just change that setting and keep it at 78×50. Best bet is to just experiment with that one and let us know. Changing the dpi in photoshop will alter the dimensions but you can knock them back down once the dpi is set.

  51. Michelle on February 14, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hi Scott, I created a logo in Illustrator, 1366 pixels by 768 pixels; 300dpi. Then I created a new document in Photoshop with the same dimensions and dpi. Can this logo be enlarged to poster size with good quality?

    • Scott Ellis on February 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      You should be able to as long as the original logo was a vector image (which is what I would expect in Illustrator, may or may not be in Photoshop), you can blow it up as big as you want!

      What size poster are you creating?

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:23 am


      If the logo is in a vector format. If it’s rasterized, then no.

  52. Mike Cullis on February 18, 2015 at 4:29 am

    I present my images to camera clubs; some of which are able to project digitally at the higher resolutions of 300dpi.

    Is there any disadvantage of setting PS to resize to 300dpi and 1400 by 1050 max dimensions? I normally resize to 72ppi. Thanks

    • Scott Ellis on February 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      DPI is for print, ppi is for digital. If you’re presenting off a laptop (e.g. not pulling from the web) I’d keep the resolution as high as possible.

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:23 am

      Mike… I’d keep them at 300dpi. They’ll look better.

  53. Lee Stephs on February 19, 2015 at 11:14 am

    I’m just trying to do a business card from an Apple template. My printer says that the file is 150 DPI and should be 250-300. How do I improve it?

    • Scott Ellis on February 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      Lee – You can increase the dip in Photoshop or another graphics application. Look for “image size” and see if you find a DPI setting. Depending on your original file you may need to redo the file at a larger size but try that first.

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Mary, you’ll have to change the DPI in image settings. Where you do that depends on what image application you are using. Hard to answer without knowing that.

  54. Angela on February 24, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Hi, I make picture pendant key chains and necklaces…..I recently started doing them for the cheer teams and so I now add text….I use Picmonkey and the problem I have is the text is a blur! I do 10 images that are 1″x2″ images on a 4×6″ Any suggestions or better photo editing soft ware that has great text resolution?

  55. winrest on February 27, 2015 at 10:04 am

    does anyone know a web script to analyze image to best print size? I have a print-on-demand store and need some image alerts for the users… thanks

  56. Wendy on March 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Hello Mr Ellis,
    I found your article when I was looking to understand better DPI vs resolution. (And was happy to see that you have kept it active) My reason was to understand better how to go from one application to another with my drawings. I have been using an App called Sketch Club and find working on my iPad (with retina screen) quicker than drawing with my Wacom tablet on my huge iMac in Photoshop. These images will become illustrations for a children’s book (print media) The issue arises when I email the drawings to myself, even tho they are at a very high resolution, the DPI is only 72dpi which makes them huge size wise but no more data per inch. Then as I take them into photoshop to compile and refine, where I’m setting the DPI to 300 and a smaller page size(8″x10.5″), I find it is still causing the image to fuzz. Do you know if there is a way around this dilemma? I look forward to hearing from you, feel free to email me also if you’d like. Thank you, Wendy

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:18 am


      I would start with the larger image size and resolution and then shrink it down but keep the dpi setting high. But I’m not sure if the app you’re starting with allows you to control dpi. If not that’s going to be a limitation no matter what you do.

  57. Matt on March 9, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Hi there Scott,
    I’ve got some panoramic shots i took with my phone from when i was over in the Rockies in Canada. The size of them are 3300 X 680 and 96DPI. I know these aint going to be the best looking pictures out there (due to being taken with a phone) but i was just wondering what sort of print i could get out of this? Like size etc? Thanks for the help!

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:15 am

      You could get about 34×7 inches.

  58. Mich L on March 10, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Sir-

    I’m new in photography.:)

    I’m working on a project, a product photoshoot with white background that requires 2000 x 2000 pixels 72 DPI for an e-commerce website. I’m looking at using an iphone 6 to take the pictures and work on the image requirements in photoshop. Will it be okay? Or its better to use DSLR?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:03 am

      You’ll get higher quality images with a DSL for sure but an iPhone can take surprisingly good pictures. If you use the iPhone make sure you have plenty of light, the subject is well lit and relatively close to the camera and use a tripod (even on your phone).

  59. Justin on March 13, 2015 at 1:17 am

    We have a number of images scanned at 300dpi. we then have a process through code that applies an automatic sharpness to the images. On screen the images don’t look very good, but when we print the images out they look fine. Do you know why this would be the case and is there some kind of filter we can apply to a displayed image to better reflect on screen what it could look like once printed?


    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:02 am

      I don’t unfortunately. It could also be a result of the application you are viewing the images in when you scan them. Try looking at them in a different image application.

  60. Ileme on March 16, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Thank you for the wonderful article.
    I am wondering about print size. If I am looking to print very large (40″x60″ or larger) prints, what resolution should I be creating images at? Will 300 dpi be large enough to print with high quality? Thanks so much for your help.

    • Scott Ellis on May 5, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Yes 300dpi will look good but the image size still has to be large enough.

  61. Cynthia on April 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    The printers keep sending me proofs at 72dpi but with the image twice as large, i.e. 9″x7″. I need the image at actual size, about 3″x2″ and at 300dpi. Is there a way to shrink it down without having the actual measurments of the finished image?

  62. Brendon on May 26, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    We have an online tool that allows you to quickly change the DPI of images without installing any software:

  63. Sean on June 10, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Hello. Thanks for posting. This was very helpful. One question I had relative to this topic is…how can one prevent someone from printing out/creating a print of an image you’ve posted online with sole intentions for online viewing only? I posted a photo online and someone printed the image out. It wasn’t the greatest quality print however was still a good looking print/image. Thanks in advance.

    • Scott Ellis on June 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Sean – if someone can download the image they can print it. You can’t really stop them. If you want to prevent downloads they you have to use javascript to disable them from doing so but quite frankly, if an image is online and someone wants to get to it bad enough there are ways.

  64. Amy on June 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    ok, so I’m very tech-challenged.

    I am an artist and would like to do some paintings to be scanned or photographed so I can have them made into things like magnets, jigsaw puzzles, etc. I was wondering the best size to paint the images to get the best prints. Should I just try making the paintings as big as the largest scanner I have access to (staples/officemax)? I do not have a good camera, so I figured scanning is my best bet. Also since you mentioned scaling things down is better than scaling up, should just paint the images as big as a scanner will allow?
    The site I was going to try ordering customized puzzles on had different dimensions you can order, for example 19.75″ X 28″ puzzles . Would you recommend I just match those dimensions or go a little bigger so they have wiggle room to scale down or crop the image?

    thanks for any advice.

  65. Ellie Wagstaff on June 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Scott,

    I read your comments in connection with Wendy’s question above on DPI v Resolution. If I have say a 6MB image which is only 72dpi, is it possible to manually increase the dpi to 300 to maintain a high print quality or would this not work?

    Many thanks,

  66. Billy on July 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I really like this thread, thank you for posting.

    Semi-related (or maybe another hi traffic article topic) … when creating social media profile images, there is a ton of clarity issues that somewhat overlap with the issues addressed here in terms of aesthetics and clarity (jpg v png, resolution, text issues, etc).

    Any thoughts on this? My own attempt at investigating has led me to believe one “trick” is to upload a picture with bigger dimensions than they suggest … I think they discourage due to the bandwidth required on their end, but it but it still works and seems to provide a more clear image.

    That said, would love the thoughts of a professional!

    • Scott Ellis on July 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm


      That is a good question and not one I have a great answer too. Uploading larger images is one approach but may not always work.

      Facebook for example, appears to optimize images (logos specifically) when you upload them and it always makes the logo look lower quality. I’ve not found a good way around it so far.

      Depending on the image you might also try different formats. For some, a .gif might be better because of the indexed color. So try different output types as well.

  67. TC Boyd on July 15, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    I’m an amateur photographer. I tale pictures at as high of resolution as my camera (Canon 70D) will take, but when I download them, they are at 72dpi and I want at least 300dpi. How can I do this?

  68. Amy on July 15, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Hey there! Thanks for the great article! Im shooting my first wedding and am totally new to Photoshop. (And all the info about pixels and the such) but what do we put the pixels to if we are exporting them all to jpeg and putting on a disc for them to use however they wish? They are going to print them out and they choose which size they use for the photos. So knowing that they will most likely use small photos AND large, what would work best (and look great at the same time) to set that part up as? Thanks so much!

  69. Digamber Pradhan on August 9, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Hi, If I upload an image say 1500 * 2400 px with a 300 dpi resolution on my website if i print that image from my browser, when sending it to the printer will it retain the size?

  70. Will on August 28, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for clarifying the DPI and resolution mess. I really never had to print anything so I didn’t know how much difference it made. I have been using Createspace to write and draw my comics and stories. I recently wrote a short story and want to put in images that maintain their 300 DPI but I want to shrink them so they are peppered in the text. When I switch the PDF pictures to Jpeg and put them in a Microsoft Word document the pictures come out blurry and the Interior Reviewer shows that the DPI is less than it should be. I don’t know how to convert the Word to PDF and then insert the PDF images in the text. It says I can insert the object but that isn’t what I need. I really can’t find any help in this matter online. Basically the text needs to be PDF and the Pics needs to be PDF with 300 DPI so uploading would be smooth with no issues. Thanks!

  71. Matt on September 3, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Isn’t resolution irrelevant when photos are taken with a digital camera? I saw a website that wanted photo submissions at 300 dpi, but didn’t specify the overall resolution.

    My camera takes photos that are 4,500×3000. at 72dpi, it would make a print that is 62.5×41.6 inches. At 300 dpi it would be 15×10 inches. But it doesn’t matter what I have it set at, its a 2 second process to change it before printing. I *could* send them a photo that was 1,200×900 that was 300 dpi, but would only print out at 4×3″, but they don’t specify how large they want it.

    Why don’t they just say “5 megapixel” or larger, instead of requesting something that doesn’t give all the info? Changing the resolution on the image just tells the program how close to pack the dots, but it doesn’t change how many dots are in the file unless you are scaling the image, and that only worsens the quality.

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