Have you ever tried to print or enlarge a photo from a digital camera and it looked blurry or blocky? Or, maybe you copied a photo off the internet to print and it was less than desirable? The problem with the quality of the image was its resolution. The term “image resolution” means how many of your image’s pixels will fit inside each inch of paper when printed. When taking a picture to place on a web page or send by email, you only need a low pixel-count setting. Images on the web, however, should never be used for printing. They are not the correct image size or resolution and therefore will appear blurred.

Image resolution has everything to do with quality of your image when printed and is the most critical feature in producing high-quality photographs or print marketing literature. You can always downsize a photograph from a high resolution image to a low resolution image for the web, but it’s impossible to enlarge a low resolution image and make it suitable for printing.

You can not judge the image resolution from how it appears on your computer screen. Images you download off the internet usually appear much larger and higher quality on your screen than they do when you print them. This is because computer monitors are generally referred to as low resolution devices because the screen displays are made up of squares or pixels. Images on the web need to be kept to a small file size for quicker downloading and viewing. If you need your images for print (that brochure you are having made) there will be different requirements than for the web and you will need a high resolution image.

Obviously, it’s better to avoid using low resolution images for printing, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Sometimes a client has a jpg image that may have been used in a powerpoint presentation or on their website and they can’t find or locate the original high resolution image. The image quality can be improve slightly, so that it becomes printable but it can never be sharp and detailed like the high resolution image. If the image is enlarged to double its size, it will start to look very jagged and show serious signs of pixilation.

The main problem with printing web graphics or low resolution images is that as they’re transferred to the print environment, ppi (pixels per inch for web) become dpi (dots per inch for print). Each pixel is seen as one dot. And, although 72 ppi is fine for looking at graphics on a screen or website, generally having 300 dots per inch is best for printing. The only way to ensure picture perfect high quality printing of your photos and print marketing materials is to start with the highest resolution image you have. Then, you can always convert the image to a low resolution image for the web without compromising the quality of the original picture.