DPI, or dots per inch, is one of the most common printing terms you need to know. In this article, we’ll break down, in simple terms, the meaning behind DPI and how it applies to printing.
DPI: Dots per inch.
Meaning: The number of dots in a printed inch.
Context: The more dots, the better the sharpness and detail, and the higher the image quality.
DPI vs PPI: DPI is most commonly used. However, PPI, or pixels per inch, is also common. Both mean the same thing and may be stylized as lowercase letters.
Choosing A Resolution
Setting up a print project is all about deciphering the point at which you can no longer see the pixels in an image. It’s also important to keep in mind that you can run into problems with a resolution that’s too low, but will rarely have issues when it’s a little too high.
A printer doesn't necessarily have a single DPI measurement. It depends on the print mode, which is usually influenced by driver settings, as well as the print head technology it uses. To err on the side of caution, it’s a good idea to always use a higher resolution to avoid ending up with pixelated images. The ideal DPI guidelines are as follows:
The most crucial concept to consider when deciding on a print resolution is how far away your viewer will be from the printed image. Naturally, the farther away they are standing from an image, the smaller the pixels get. Think of the billboards you pass on the freeway. They are so far away, viewed at such a rapid speed, that designers can get away with very low DPIs.
Method & Material
The material you print on also affects the required resolution. Primarily, it can alter the sharpness of an image, so a resolution higher than 300 DPI may sometimes be necessary. For example, uncoated paper tends to hold less detail than glossy coated paper, so we may use 200-250 DPI instead.
Always remember that it’s dangerous to assume 300 DPI is the correct resolution for all of your printing needs, and that it’s better to lean toward too much detail rather than not enough. Better yet, with a full-service printing and graphics company like Duggal Visual Solutions, you can leave these types of decisions to the pros.