What The Heck Is DPI?

DPI is an acronym that stands for Dots Per Inch. It measures printer resolution which is the dot mass of ink or toner when printing, scanning, or creating a video. When printing, the DPI defines the resolution of a print and the halftone sizing as the ink connects to an external source.

Which DPI should I choose?

The DPI setting depends on the type of document you will be printing. The most critical element to consider is the amount of color you want to include. Is it for a business presentation? First impressions matter, and color imagery will speak louder than a black and white. Do you have family photos that you want to preserve? DPI can play a critical role depending on your printing needs which is why you should consider it before printing anything.

Example: You take a picture and set your digital camera’s PPI (pixels per inch) resolution to capture a vivid scene which it does in tiny sub-pixels. When you print the picture, the printer must duplicate the imagery which is why DPI resolution matters.

  • The higher you set the DPI setting, the more substantial color palette you will have access to during the printing process. The more color availability, the better the tone will be.
  • The lower the DPI, the fewer ink dots your image will have and the fewer amount of colors your document will show. 

Much like digital cameras, printers have different DPI settings. When thinking about DPI in terms of sizing, the resolution you choose is the smallest number a dot can get when printing. The higher the DPI, the clearer your image will be. It depends on the model of the printer as to how high or low a measurement. The standard resolution, though, is 600 DPI.

  1. Consumer quality laser and inkjet printers: 300-1200 DPI
  1. Professional grade laser, inkjet, and imagesetters 1200-2400 DPI

There are significant differences between consumer and professional grade printers. Standard printers typically have four color channels which limit the number of tones available when printing. Professional printers have between five and seven which means you can produce up to 128 color tones per inch. If your image was created on a monitor that had a higher resolution, you would choose a higher DPI than PPI to create a similar print.

Are DPI and PPI The Same?

There is much confusion because some people believe that DPI and PPI are the same things. Even though they both deal with print resolution, there is a bit of a difference. 

  • DPI is a printing term used to describe the dots per inch in print form.
  • PPI measures pixel resolution of digital material (i.e. pictures, graphics).

Most commercial-grade printers create colors using a halftone technique which differs from the graphics resolution that uses a dithering method.

  • Halftone is a printing technique that produces more tones with only a few colors.
  • Dithering is a computer graphics technique that creates an illusion of colors not available in a digital palette.

Will The Wrong DPI Affect Print Quality?

The dots per inch work in relation with PPI (pixels per inch) and LPI (lines per inch). Your PPI and LPI typically affect the print quality because they are associated with digital imaging whereas DPI associates specifically with your printing technique.

PostcardsRus recommends that your DPI be a minimum of 300 for professional print quality. We understand that it can be a bit confusing, so we have an FAQ which will be of assistance. We also have experts on hand to answer any questions you have about design or print requirements.

Tags: DPI, Print, Printing Google