We do a lot of print work here at KAIZEN, and as a result, we have the same question asked of us again and again:
What is print resolution?
After being asked so often, it occurred to me that it might be a good blog topic, so here we go! First, I need to explain what DPI means – that’s Dots Per Inch. It literally means how many dots you can cram into an inch of space.
Not really very scientific, is it?
The easiest translation of resolution is that there are hundreds of teeny dots squished into a single square inch of space. If you’re making a business card the right size for print at 300dpi, you want to make sure your pixels number 1125×675:
2.25″ by 3.75″ x 300dpi = 1125 by 675
That’s the actual measurement of a business card file in both space as well as resolution.
The more dots you put in there, the cleaner your image appears, especially when printed. Resolution is really just advanced pointillism. Newspapers are a great example of pointillism used in print. If you look very closely, newsprint is made of very small dots that, when combined, give our eye the impression of a solid shape. The reason you can see the dots is because the resolution used for printing newspapers is generally very low. This is for several reasons, but ideally, newspapers are something you read once and throw away, so using very inexpensive material, method and ink allows the printer to keep costs down.
In the world of marketing, resolution is a little more important. We want to make a good impression on our target audience and the best way to do that is to maintain your brand. If your material is messy looking and pixelated, people may pass you over in favour of a more resolution-conscious competitor.
This probably isn’t very interesting to you but it can and will help your business.
When we send a file to print, we make sure it’s at least 300dpi. In some cases, dpi can go even higher! That’s why you should always make sure any design work you have done for you is in vector format – that means it can be infinitely resized without any quality loss. Having a professional designer create your material will ensure you get vector format so when you do decide to get print material made, it will be clean and crisp looking, no matter what the size and resolution.
If your file is not a vector, increasing the size means you’re also increasing the size of the pixels. This is why you see a lot of images that have turned into a giant mess of squares – people who don’t know about print resolution won’t know they should be observing these rules and they wind up with material that looks kind of fuzzy.
Don’t get caught with messy looking print material that could deteriorate your brand!
If you have any questions or comments, let us know.