Before we get into the key variables influencing this essential decision, we need to define the words normally used in describing image resolution so you know what they mean and how they are applied.
Learning what these various measuring metrics are will help you understand when to apply them and provide you with some clarity on how we create and render print artwork.
What is PPI?
PPI stands for pixels per inch. We assign this number to the pixels displayed on a digital screen. It also refers to the saturation of pixels in a digital image.
The number of pixels along the length and across the width of a digital image—the image dimensions in pixels—is referred to as pixel count.
What’s a Pixel?
Pixels, often known as “picture elements,” are the smallest components of a digital image. When you zoom close on any image on the screen, you’ll notice that it’s broken up into colorful dots—these are pixels.
Sub-pixels make up one pixel. These sub-pixels are red, green, and blue elements (RGB) invisible to the human eye since they meld into a single shade that appears on the pixel level through additive color processing.
Digital Artwork is Built on RGB Color Space
For this reason, PPI uses the RGB color model.
PPI does not exist in print and print artwork files, only in digital image displays such as digital photography LCDs, computer monitors, and television screens.
Let’s Talk About Image Resolution
Our customers commonly ask us about resolution.
Now, this is a frequently used term while discussing digital data. Low resolution is a typical problem, yet it is deemed a “design error” that might cause an order to be delayed. The only method to resolve this problem is to replace it with a high-resolution file or image.
When it comes to image resolution, we report the quality of files using pixels per inch (PPI) or DPI (more on this in a bit). Images with higher resolution have more PPI, which means more pixel data and a higher-quality, clear image with fine detail.
Lower resolution images have fewer pixels, and if those few pixels are excessively large (often when a picture is stretched and distorted), they can become apparent, as shown in the image below.
The Difference Between LPI, DPI, and PPI
Many individuals are confused about the difference between lines per inch (LPI), dots per inch (DPI), and pixels per inch (PPI).
We use lines per inch (LPI) to determine the resolution for printers that cannot print in a continuous tone. The term, which is occasionally used interchangeably with halftone resolution, screen frequency, or line frequency, refers to rows of cells or arrays of tiny dots that make up a single tone.
PPI and DPI are two words that anybody who deals with images should be familiar with. Both describe an image’s resolution or clarity, but each pertains to a different medium—that is, digital vs. print.
PPI vs. DPI
While PPI and DPI are often used interchangeably, they should not be. Understanding how they vary and how to use them in your projects will enable you to generate high-quality prints, edit digital images for online use, and consequently save yourself time.
DPI, or dots per inch, is a physical printer’s resolution value. This value is the smallest physical size of ink droplets generated by a printer on an output medium (paper, plastic film, and so on). The number of dots per inch has an impact on the degree of detail and overall print quality. To reproduce a single pixel value, multiple dots are required.
Pixels per inch (PPI) is a measure of digital image resolution. Each pixel in the image represents a single hue (color), intensity, and luminance value for a single location in the image with a lateral and vertical coordinate.
The Ideal Printing Resolution for Great Prints Quality is 300 PPI
Now that you are familiar with the most commonly used terms in printing, we now want to answer the question: What PPI should be used in printing presses?
The recommended printing resolution for image clarity is 300 PPI. this applies to all print products, from custom labels, custom printed tape, to larger format ones such as custom bags and custom tissue.
Designing a file with a resolution lower than 300 PPI will result in pixelation, while a resolution higher than 300 PPI is, quite frankly, pointless. This is because the human eye cannot perceive any difference in print quality when an image is printed in a resolution that’s higher than 300 PPI. Furthermore, it will considerably increase your file size, which means it will take longer to upload and download your files.
Why Exactly 300 PPI?
300 PPI stands for 300 pixels per inch. What does this signify for your file layout? Let’s assume you’re developing a file that’s 11″ wide and 17″ tall (tabloid/ledger). Because every inch includes 300 pixels, your 11″ by 17″ file ought to be:
- 300ppi * 11 inches which equals 3300 pixels wide and
- 300ppi * 17 inches which equals 5100 pixels tall
INKABLE PRO TIP: Before you start to create your file, we suggest that you adjust the resolution in your image editor (for example, Photoshop) to 300 PPI. Increasing the resolution after you’ve begun will result in blurriness, also known as pixelation.
If your design comprises raster images (LINK TO OUR RASTER BLOG POST), you must decide which resolution is best for your task. The resolution of a raster graphic is the number of pixels in one inch, which is measured in units such as (DPI) or (PPI).
A typical unwritten rule for image size vs. print size is that the image size should be at least 300 times the size of the print you desire, at 350 DPI.
What Happens if You Cannot Design Your Print Files at 300 PPI?
Although we usually recommend designing in 300 PPI resolution for print, we understand that there are special situations when you just do not have the capacity to alter your designs.
If you are unable to create your print files at 300 PPI, there are a few steps you must take to determine whether the low resolution will work for you.
The first thing you should consider is if your prints are essential in terms of quality; in other terms, can you manage with poorer print quality?
Some color copies and flyers, for example, are viewed just once and then discarded. If you don’t mind the poor resolution, you may go on and print it. If you’re worried, you can always contact us to find out how the lower-resolution print would do using your current files.
We urge that you obtain tangible proof so that you may see it for yourself. For instance, try printing it out on your desktop printer to preview it.
Don’t get too hung up on a particular image. Sharper prints are always better and look more professional. You can simply purchase a higher resolution image that will print with greater quality.
IF HIGH QUALITY IS AN ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT: The best solution is to redesign your file. Of course, you’d have to start from scratch to start at 300 PPI. You can redesign the entire file, simply the layers containing pictures and illustrations since your text are unaffected by low resolution, especially if you’ve outlined them.
Tough Times and Need a (Free) Hand? We’ve Got You!
Get a free file check rather than print your file and risk being dissatisfied with its output quality. Enjoy the expertise of seasoned Prepress designers, artists, and technical specialists when you get your files manually reviewed and confirmed.
Every order at Inkable Label Co. includes:
- A thorough file check.
- Prepress reports.
- FREE revisions.
- Digital proofs (and versions of those corrected proofs until you are absolutely happy).
We secure your full approval before printing your file since we want to ensure that you are completely happy with their product.
-What PPI Should I Use For Printing FAQs-
What should my PPI be?
The greater the number of pixels per inch, the finer the detail in the printout and the sharper it will appear.
180 pixels per inch is likely the bare minimum for acceptable print quality. You can choose 240 pixels per inch for a better quality image, but always use 300 pixels per inch for professional prints.
What does 300 PPI mean?
PPI, or pixels per inch, talks about the number of pixels printed vertically and horizontally in a 1-inch unit.
This simply means that a square inch of print at 300 PPI will have 90,000 pixels. Your image will be crisper and clearer since the pixels are denser with higher PPIs.
What is better, PPI 72 or 300?
Because of the increased pixel density, images with a higher PPI tend to be of higher quality.
Individual pixels in a 300 PPI image are much smaller than those in a 72 PPI image, and smaller pixels provide a more seamless mix of color and form.
What is the difference between PPI and DPI?
PPI refers to the pixel resolution of a digital graphic, whereas DPI refers to the number of ink dots on a printed image.
Although PPI primarily relates to screen display, it also determines the print size of your artwork and hence the output quality. On the other hand, DPI has little to do with digital and is primarily concerned with print.