Image Resolution: What does 300 DPI really mean, and why does it matter?


"The Importance of Image Resolution for Print and Digital Media"

In order to ensure that your leaflets, or any other printed product, are good quality and appear bright and clear there are certain basic design and printing-related elements to be aware of. Let us start off with a quick intro to set the scene. First of all, many of you might wonder “Why does it matter if my artwork is 300 DPI or not?” or even “300 DPI...what are they talking about?”. Don’t worry, for someone who does not work in the industry such terminology might seem foreign.

1. What is DPI?

In the printing field, ‘DPI’ is short for ‘Dots Per Inch’. This value refers to the number of dots which are printed per inch. It is therefore needless to say, the higher the DPI value, the higher the printed dot density, the higher the resolution (‘less pixelated’). Depending on what you are printing, this knowledge might be very useful. Any images, including logos in your artwork need to satisfy a minimum DPI threshold in order for the final print to be majestic. Just because these visuals might look awesome on your laptop does not mean this will be the case once printed.

2. Does the colour mode matter?

You guessed it … of course this matters. However, before we get too technical, let's just keep it at this. If you are looking for beautiful bright colours, then you will want to go for the CMYK colour space and avoid RGB for your print files. We will not discuss this topic in further detail, but feel free to read our blog entry on the topic here where you can find anything you might want to know.

3. Why is 300 DPI the minimum DPI for artwork if you want a good printing outcome?

Well the answer to this might seem obvious, since higher DPI means increased detail. Let me just make it easy for you and give you an example. Please direct your attention to the image below. Let’s just get a little bit more into detail. Simply put, images can be one of two types: bitmap images or vector images.

Bitmap images are stored as a series of tiny dots called pixels. These pixels are arranged together in a pattern to form an image. When you zoom into the image you will eventually start seeing the individual pixels that make up the image.

Vector images are not based on pixels, but on mathematical formulas that draw certain lines and curves. When you zoom into a vector image, it is just as sharp as the image in original size.

To ensure the sharpness of bitmap images, one should check the resolution (DPI) of the bitmap images in the artwork.

Spot the difference?

As the DPI increases from left to right, so does the clarity of the image. When printing any visual, it is important to use images with a DPI of 300 or higher to avoid any nasty surprises upon receiving printed artwork.

4. How can I easily check my artwork’s DPI level?

Don’t worry, there are various ways to determine the DPI of your artwork. The easiest way is to use Paint. Open your artwork in Microsoft Paint and then locate the Properties section for this artwork.

As you can see when viewing the Image Properties, this image is 300 DPI. Hence it meets the minimum requirements necessary for printing your artwork and you can therefore proceed with designing your artwork and placing your intended order .

Alternatively, if you are an avid user of Adobe Illustrator, then here is a good step-by-step description of how to check your artwork’s DPI within the program.

In case you do not yet appreciate the importance of ensuring that your artwork is at least 300 DPI, here is another example to show you the difference in final outcome. Below are two pictures of street signs. At first glance, both the Kangaroo (96 DPI) and the Emu (300 DPI) appear to be clear in terms of resolution. However, don’t be fooled! Zooming in on the pictures and printing them clearly highlights that the resolution is insufficient, as they become very pixelated.

 96 DPI


Zoomed in:


 300 DPI


Zoomed in:


This piece has hopefully highlighted the importance of ensuring a minimum of 300 DPI for all images used in artwork submitted for printing. By following the steps that we set out, you can ensure a satisfactory outcome for any printing job.Happy printing!