“High resolution” or “low resolution”?

Allow me to explain why these two phrases are nonsense. The key word here is ‘resolution’ which refers to the number of dots (or pixels) in a given area and despite our metric standards, the usual reference is ‘inches’. It therefore refers to the number of Dots (or pixels) Per Inch (DPI).

Professionally-printed items such as brochures tend to require images to contain 300 dots (or pixels) in every inch, whereas images viewed on screen only need 72 (though this is increasing with smart phones and tablets). When creating design layouts we (graphic designers) work with images at whatever resolution we’re supplied with – though each image needs to be supplied at the correct resolution prior to creating the final artwork for printing.

So if an image measures 600 pixels wide by 600 pixels deep, this means it can be printed in a high quality brochure at two inches by two inches (600 pixels (or dots) divided by 300 (dots per inch) equals 2 (inches)).

Or that same image could also be used on a web site or PowerPoint presentation (on-screen) at just over eight inches by eight inches (600 pixels (or dots) divided by 72 (dots per inch) equals 8.3 (inches)).

So when we’re supplied with a “high resolution” image which in fact measures 150 pixels by 150 pixels, it can only be printed at around half an inch square: not really that high is it?

THE LESSON: When specifying image sizes, give it to us in ‘pixels wide by pixels high’ and we can then use it at the correct size. :-)

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