What DPI/PPI Should My Image be Saved At?

A question we get all the time, “what DPI do you recommend?”   This is a pretty hard question to answer.  There are a few thing we need to go over first. Lets start with the basics.

What is DPI?

DPI stands for Dots Per Inch.  PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch.  These terms can, and are, used interchangeably.  DPI seems to be the industry norm even though  most professional programs save pixels, not dots.  The difference being dots are circles, pixels are squares.

What DPI should my image be saved at?

That all depends on the size of your image and how big you want to make it.  Instead of thinking in DPI you should think of how many pixels (or dots) you image has compared to the size you want it printed. For perfect results we have included a table below.

Dimensions Pixel Resolution
Small Poster 16×24  150 dpi 2400×3600
18×24  150 dpi 2700×3600
Medium Poster 24×32  150 dpi 3600×4800
24×36  150 dpi 3600×5400
Large Poster 36×48  150 dpi 5400×7200
36×54  150 dpi 5400×8100

For absolutely PERFECT printing results this chart can be very helpful.  But remember, the digital printing process is capable of printing sharp looking images far below these resolutions.  A great way to see what your image/file will look like is to have our image quality meter take a look at it.

300 DPI compared to 150 DPI?

Most people feel they need their image to be 300 dpi when submitting.  This would be true if we used offset printers, but we use a digital printing process on inkjet printers.  This means better quality at a lower DPI.  150 DPI is more than enough to produce a crystal clear image.

The Biggest DPI Mistake

Say you have an image that is 2400×3600 and you want it printed 24×36 but the chart above says it will not look perfect.  So you decide to save it at a higher resolution thinking it will create a better final product.  If you have a vector image, that will work out wonderfully.  BUT!  If you have a raster image increasing the resolution will do nothing, it might actually make your poster worse off.