Dots Per Inch

Have you ever wondered about DPI (dots per inch, or pixels per inch) and how it affects your digital scrapbook layouts?  DPI is a measurement of spatial printing (dot) or video (pixel) density within a span of 1 inch. Or just simply, the amount of dots within a 1 inch square that make up your photo or layout.

Our main concern with DPI settings is directly related to the quality of print we will obtain when a page layout is printed.  We will only focus on the effects of dpi while printing for now because according to many out there, this subject is a giant can of worms and can become controversial.

When you are creating a new page, it is suggested that you start with 300 dpi to get the best print quality possible while keeping your file sizes somewhat manageable.  This is also because the human eye can generally not detect a difference in detail beyond 300 dpi, which makes it the optimum resolution for printing.

But then we add more confusion. Viewing higher resolution images on the computer screen usually appear to be huge in size. We have to zoom out in order to see the full layout or picture.  If you haven’t noticed the large size of the photos, check and see how far out you are zoomed next time you open a photo in your image editor.  This is because the image resolution is actually higher than that which the monitor is displaying, which translates to a large dimensional image on screen.  The actual print dimensions of the image are unchanged, so as long as you remain working with the image in its original resolution.

For a visual comparison, both of the images below are 1 inch x 1 inch. If printed, they will both print out 1″x1″. The 300 DPI (right) image will print out crisp and clear, the 72 DPI (left) image will print out pixelated and blurry.

If we zoom into the left image to match the on screen dimension of the right image, we can start to understand why the left image will provide a poor quality print.

So back to the basics.  300 dpi (when used with right pixel dimensions) will always provide a much higher quality print than images with a lower dpi with the same printable dimensions.  The best way to really start understanding dpi and pixel count is to just play around with your images and try different things.

Just don’t save over your originals with lower resolution images!  Have fun!

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