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Printing Resolution Guide

Printing Resolution Guide

Read Time: 2 Minutes


20 Oct 2015

High resolution is the secret to print that looks amazing – but what is it and how do you make sure your artwork has got it? In this quick guide to resolution for printing, we’ll answer all your questions and show you some quick tips for getting it right.

What is Resolution?

Resolution in print is all about how many tiny pixels make up an image. It’s measured in dots per square inch. The easiest way to picture this is to imagine that when you increase the resolution, you’re increasing how many pixels (or dots) live in that square inch of the picture. And the more dots, the more detail!

For example, 300dpi resolution means there are 300 tiny dots in each square inch. The result? Loads of detail – which is what makes your finished image look high quality.

differences in resolution depending on the dpi


The higher the resolution, the higher the quality. That’s why when you come to set up artwork for print, you should always start with a resolution of 300dpi.


Why Does Resolution Affect the Image Quality?

RGB vs CMYK on computers and in print


When your artwork is on screen, it’s usually displayed at 72dpi. When your work is printed, however, it will be 300dpi. 
If you imagine watching an old black and white film on a top of the range TV, it wouldn’t look at clear as the latest Hollywood blockbuster would because it wasn’t designed for that size screen, just like how your computer resolution isn’t meant for printing.

How Do I Create a 300dpi Image?

If you’re trying to print something that has a resolution of less than 300dpi (dots per inch), the odds are that the image is going to be pixelated (that’s technical jargon for blurry). If artwork is less than 300dpi, we would always recommend you have your printed products redesigned for the best quality materials. 


 To create a print ready-image with 300dpi in Photoshop, select the following: File > New, then in the resolution box type ‘300’. Note: Ensure that your canvas’ colour mode is set to CMYK.   

How to set up CMYK in photoshop


If you’re using InDesign, there are lots of different bits of content that have no resolution – like vector-based logos. You’ll only be able to specify the dpi when you export your file to a different file format, like PDF or JPEG.


how to set up CMYK in InDesign


This is why, if you’re using images in your design, you should try and source the highest quality images. Check out my top tips below for how to do this.

Top Tips to Avoid Resolution Issues


top tips for high print resolution


  • Check the source of your assets/images. The most common reason behind a low resolution is because search engines have been used to search for assets. If you were using search engines for royalty free assets, I’d recommend using resolution filters to find the highest resolution images, and, once the assets have downloaded, always double check the image file’s properties. Make sure the resolution matches the 300dpi resolution of your artwork. We would recommend you source high quality images from stock image sites such as Shutterstock or Pexel. 
  • Avoid using a high ISO setting on your camera. Photos are a great way to make the potential customers aware of your products, locations and services in action, and adjusting your ISO settings is a great way to combat dark lighting. However, this can sometimes result in your photos appearing a little grainy. When producing professional looking marketing materials, we would recommend using a photo that’s well lit and grain free. 
  • Make sure your settings are correct when saving/exporting your artwork. Most of the time, changing the options given when saving to a pdf or jpg image can solve this problem. The resolution options should always be set to a minimum of 300dpi, and if you are given compression options these should be set to maximum. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can instantprint improve the resolution of my design?
A: No, technically this is not possible, this will have to be done in the design software that you have used to create the design.

Q: I can’t improve the resolution of my design what can I do?
A: There are two main options. You could either pay to have a new design professionally made or you could print the document “as is”. We would not recommend printing a document below 300dpi for the reasons outlined in this document.


Do you still need help? You can ask our Personal Artworker team any questions about resolution. Email your artwork and questions to

Keyan Douglas

About the Author

Hello! I’m Keyan, I’m part of the Studio team. When you upload artwork to your order, our team check through and set it up for print.