Gustavo Baner from ColorCopiesUSA

Gustavo Baner


Date Published: 2020-03-01// Updated: 2020-07-29

Topic: Technical Knowledge

When you need to print images, you should prepare your artwork at the proper best resolution so that the printed version looks at its best.

Here you can find some tips to get great printing quality, and a table with the suggested resolution, according to which size your image is going to be printed.

What is a good resolution in an image for printing?

The magic number is 300 pixels per inch, which allows a denser grid of printed dots (dpi). If you consider that the images are posted on internet are about 700 pixels wide x 400 pixels tall, you can see that those images will only produce an acceptable quality if their printed size is about 2 inches. That is why it is important that you use images that are natively large. The images have to have been "born" (in the camera when shooting) large enough to allow for a good quality of the print.

We have to look two dimensions to understand why a printed picture looks good or not:
1 - the resolution of the image and
2 - the number of dots that will be physically printed on the substrate

DPI & PPI represent the quality of the image at the time of printing

So, first of all, you should learn about how we measure the resolution in the printing business:  
There is the metric called DPI (Dots per Inch) or PPI (Pixels per Inch) which indicates the number of dots (the smallest printing unit) present in an inch. More dots means that the quality will be better.
It is usually the case that files of images that contain more detail are bigger. There is a point at which a larger image (when talking about the file) does not create a higher quality printed image.
The quality of the printed image can't be better than the image itself. The printing technology introduces restrictions as well. There is a point at which a better picture won't improve the outcome. There is not a burnt-in-fire to that one, since different printing presses will behave differently.

this picture shows how the more dots printed per inch, the nicer the picture looks
More dots per inch product better quality.

Megapixels: Start with a High Quality Imaage

Now it's time to take a look at your digital camera or mobile phone. To get an idea of how detailed your images in those devices are,"the file size measured in Megapixels is the key". So what is a Megapixel? Mega means million and pixel means.... pixel. We said mega means million, but as we are talking about bits (powers of 2) a mega is 1,048,576 pixels. Close enough.

The higher number of pixels in an image, it usually indicates that the image is more detailed.

The fact that an image looks "good" in the screen of a phone does not provide a good source of assesment

Keep in mind that if the lenses are dirty, or if the camera was not stable at the time of taking a picture, the quality could still be bad

TIP: Sharing images that live in a phone for print: We see clients sharing images via text message or other social media apps. To make all of those platforms fast, the images that "travel" through them get compressed and reduced in size, so those images won't look good at all. When the images reside in your phone, you are better off sending them by email instead


Resolution is tied to the quality of the image. Higher resolution means sharpness, and detail of the photo. But the resolution for screens is different than the resolution for printing. In a computer screen you typically have 72 dpi, but if you need to get that image printed on paper, you will need at least 300 dpi or more.


Print Size
Typical Size in
4" x 6"3 megapixels1700 x 2200 pixels
5" x 7"4 megapixels3400 x 2200 pixels
8" x 10"5 megapixels3400 x 4400 pixels
11" x 14"6 megapixels4400 x 6800 pixels
16" x 20"8 megapixels4800 x 7200 pixels
16" x 24"12 megapixels5400 x 7200 pixels
24" x 36"20 megapixels7200 x 10800 pixels


Order your printing through our Color Copies order page. We can help you to find the right resolution por your image.