What Resolution Should be Used for Printing?

Find out the correct number of pixels per inch for print images.

Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 12:50 pm

Resolution is a frequently asked question amongst Printivity printing customers. It is a word that is used constantly when speaking about digital files.  A low resolution image is a common issue, but is considered a  “design error” that can delay an order. The only way to fix this issue is to replace it with a higher print resolution image or file.

But how do you know which print resolution is best? For print, documents with a 300 PPI resolution are ideal. Here’s why.

What does 300 PPI in print mean?

300 PPI means “300 pixels per inch”. PPI is the measure of the resolution for a digital image. You may see DPI be used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Dots Per Inch (DPI) is the measurement used to determine print resolution. Learn more about DPI vs PPI in this link, but you will only need to focus on PPI for the purpose of this article.

What does it mean for your file design? Well, let’s say that you’re designing a file which is 8.5” wide and 11” tall. Since every inch contains 300 pixels, that means that your 8.5”x11” file should be:

  • 2550 pixels wide (300 pixels/inch * 8.5 inches) and
  • 3300 pixels tall (300 pixels/inch * 11 inches)

We recommend setting the print resolution in your image editor (i.e. Photoshop) to 300 pixels per inch before starting to design your file. Increasing the print resolution after you start will still result in blurriness/pixellation. While 300 is a good PPI for printing standard documents, consider increasing your file resolution to 600 PPI for more detailed graphics.

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300 PPI is the standard print resolution for quality

300 PPI is the optimal printing resolution for digital printing presses. This issue applies to all print products, from small products like business cards and postcards to larger products like booklet printing and a pocket folder. Designing with a printer resolution lower than 300 PPI creates blurry images and excessive pixellation. On the other hand, there is no point in designing at higher than 300 PPI for a print project. As far as the eye can tell, there will be no difference in print quality. Additionally, it will significantly bloat your file size (making it more time-consuming to upload/download your files).

What to do if you can’t design your print files at 300 PPI resolution

The general rule is to use 300 PPI for printing, but we also know that sometimes you just don’t have the ability to edit your designs. If you can’t design your print files at 300 PPI, there are a couple steps you need to take to see if the low resolution will work for you.

The first thing you need to do is to ask if your prints are critical to have the best PPI for printing; in other words: can you live with lower print quality? For example, many color copies and flyers are looked at once then thrown away. If you can live with low resolution images, just go ahead and print it. If you’re concerned, you can always ask your customer service representative how the lower-resolution print can do. We recommend ordering a physical proof so you can see for yourself (you can try printing it out on a desktop printer to preview it instantly). Don’t be too attached to a single image or graphic. You can easily find a similar image with a higher resolution that will print with better quality.

If you have the capability to do so (or if image quality is an absolute must), do is to do a redesign of your file. You would need to redesign from scratch, starting at an image resolution of 300 PPI. You could: redesign the entire document, redesign just the pages with photographs and illustrations (text usually isn’t affected by low resolution), or redesign just the covers (to save you time).

Get a complimentary file check from Printivity!

Before printing your file and risking being unhappy with your files resolution, receive a complimentary file check! Every order placed with Printivity receives a file check and digital proof. We do not print your file until you fully approve your file because we want to make sure our customers are 100% satisfied with their product. But if you are not ready to commit to an order yet, email your file to service@printivity for a complimentary file check!

Need more help?

Printivity offers graphic design services to help you at any stage. Whether it’s creating an image with a good resolution for printing or designing the whole product, we got you covered. You will work with our professional graphic designers to make your vision come to life on paper.


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