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What is Dots Per Inch or DPI?

Dots per inch or DPI as it is sometimes known is a term or phrase that is often used when dealing with any artwork. We cover what it is and how to resolve the most common issues.

Whats is Dots Per Inch
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What Does Dots Per Inch mean?

Dots per inch or DPI as it is sometimes referred is a term or phrase that is often used when dealing with artwork for print. Throughout this article we hope to provide you with enough information as to why it matters and how to change the dpi setting correctly. DPI, is a shortened way of saying Dots Per Inch and is the commonly used phrase relating to the resolution and print quality of images within printing artwork.

What is DPI or Dots Per Inch?

We get asked this a lot: “What is dots per inch?” Simply put, its the number of dots per inch square on a printed item. Let’s take an A5 Leaflet for example. Typically speaking the more dots per inch, the better the resolution image, thats relatively easy to understand right?

There are caveats with using a higher dpi, but don’t worry, we will cover these later.

To help you visualise this feel free to look at the image below. Or if you pushed for time watch the video below, and in less than a minute you will know.

Dpi visual guide

Below we have some examples of the same artwork at the same size showing the differences with DPI. Hopefully, this will help you choose the correct DPI setting for your print project.

DPI comparison image

On initial glance they look the same however when you zoom in the detail on the 72dpi image becomes unclear and not as sharp.

What DPI should I use?

This really depends on what you are planning on using the artwork for. If you are using the image for screens, whether it be for sharing on social media or on your website, 72dpi for digital images might be enough. Creating artwork for screens can be a different process all together, as you can create artwork using a Pixels Per Inch method.

However, at Print Stafford, we always work with DPI as this alleviates any issues when creating artwork that may be use for different uses.

Which DPI is best for printing?

Again, this can depend on a wide range of factors such as the machinery being used. There are printing machinery that has the capability to print at over 1000dpi, however once you go over 300dpi (our recommended DPI setting), the overall benefit is minimal, and you’ll struggle to notice a perceivable difference in the quality of your prints.

DPI printing at a higher amount as mentioned can be a waste of time. Nevertheless, with pictures its always best to use a high resolution image.

There are many image formats available, so it is worth noting that when we refer to artwork in this guide, we are referring to raster images such as jpgs. Vector images, due the nature of what they are and how they save their vector data, offer a very sharp finish every time.

Nevertheless, creating artwork like this is not always the best choice but it is a popular image format for simpler designs such as logos.

What is DPI
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What DPI should I use for printing?

DPI within the print industry refers to the total number of dots within an inch square produced by the printer. Think of it as dot density if you like. 300dpi is widely considered to be the best resolution for printing since it always gives a great finished product.

However, that’s not to say that you can’t use a higher resolution image but, in the grand scheme of things, it generally isn’t worth the effort or the file size when saving or sending your files.

Let’s consider an example. Saving a roller banner at 1200dpi sounds great in practice but when you come to send it you will notice a considerable size difference. This becomes even more apparent when dealing with even larger PVC Banners. These are designed to be seen from far away and as such a lower dpi setting can be used.

Other print companies may recommend sending artwork as low as 72dpi or 150dpi, however we class these as low resolution images. Here at Print Stafford, we always recommend using a minimum of 300dpi for printing.

Dots Per Inch (DPI): How to check?

Checking the DPI or the resolution of an image is relatively simple to do and it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a Windows or MAC system. In Windows, to check the dpi of an image you would right click on the image name. Select properties near the bottom and then the Details tab.

There you will find a host of information and if you scroll to the section called Image, you will see a Horizontal resolution and Vertical resolution value for your image. To do the same on a Mac, you will need to open the image in Preview and select Tools and then adjust size and its labelled as Resolution.

How to change the DPI of an image?

Changing the DPI of an image can be done in most graphic software, but it is worth noting that changing the dots per inch does not change the size of your image or the size of the file. When working with an image you need to print, it’s a great idea to set the target resolution before you resize it.

This really helps preventing making the image too small to print at your chosen finished size.

Where is Dots Per Inch in Photoshop?

We have talked a lot about which DPI setting to use for print and which DPI for digital images on screen, but now we are now going to discuss how you can change the DPI or dots per inch in photoshop.

You can use this to save your images for screens at a smaller size too as DPI for digital images can be a lot smaller. You will notice that they will upload a lot quicker as well!

Open your image in Photoshop and go to Image and then Image size. You will want to uncheck the resample box as this will upscale your image to a poorer quality.

Next to the Resolution tab, you can type your preferred resolution, in this case 300dpi and in the drop down make sure you have selected pixels/inch.

When you have done this, you will notice that the measurements for the height and width change automatically. This then shows at what finished print size your image will print at 300dpi.

Photoshop DPI

You can change to do it the other way and set the measurements to mm and input your finished size, but you should pay attention to the DPI setting and check that the image resolution does not go to low.

How can I ensure my artwork will print OK?

Hopefully you have made it through the information above and have now learnt what is meant by DPI. If you set your artwork up to the correct size and have used the right DPI setting, this will enable us at Print Stafford to print your artwork as you want it.

We check DPI of any supplied artwork at the time as part of our proofing process to ensure you get high quality prints and service. Any issues or need help feel free to get in touch.