For businesses investing in printing and scanning resources, it’s important to understand the project requirements. Balancing cost and output, and ensuring the right resources are applied to the requirements, isn’t always easy.

Investing in the wrong technology or services can mean wasted money. Implementing the wrong solution can put your business at risk and leave employees struggling with an inadequate solution.

We’ll look at dots per inch, or DPI, and how businesses can use it to determine the scope and requirements of printing and scanning services. We’ll also look at DPI as a baseline measure for certain industries and requirements, so you can scale and budget your services.

What Is DPI and How Is It Used?

DPI, or dots per inch, is a measure of the resolution of a printed document or digital scan. The higher the dot density, the higher the resolution of the print or scan. Typically, DPI is the measure of the number of dots that can be placed in a line across one inch, or 2.54 centimeters.

The higher the DPI, the sharper the image. A higher resolution image provides the printer and printing device more information. You can get more detail and greater resolution from an image with higher DPI.

A lower DPI will produce an image with fewer dots in printing. No matter how powerful your printer is, a low-resolution image doesn’t provide enough raw data to produce high-quality images. The ink will spread on the page, making the edges look fuzzy.

Similarly, a monitor will measure the pixels per inch, or PPI, of a video display. Typically, a printer must offer a higher DPI to match the color quality and resolution of a video display PPI. This is due to the limited range of colors in a print job.

DPI Printing and Industry Standards

Let’s review a few standards and guidelines for using DPI in printing services. Keep in mind, you’ll need a better, and more capable, printer or print service to deliver higher-quality and high-resolution printing output.

1. Low-Resolution Images

Low-resolution images are considered 150dpi and less. For print, 150dpi is considered low-quality printing, even though 72dpi is considered the standard for the web (which is why it’s not easy printing quality images straight from the web). Low-resolution images will have blurring and pixelation after printing.

For business purposes, low-resolution images are suitable for scanning text documents and storing records digitally. Internal office communication can be reproduced with a low resolution, but anything used outside the office should be higher than 150dpi. After all, the printing quality needs to represent your business.

2. Medium-Resolution Images

Medium-resolution images have between 200dpi-300dpi. The industry standard for quality photographs and image is typically 300dpi.

For businesses, producing an external document like a brochure, a booklet, or a flyer requires 300dpi. You might be able to get away with 250dpi if you are less concerned with the quality and resolution of the printing. Any marketing material or collateral produced should be, at a minimum, 300dpi. Booklets, pamphlets, reports, and sales sheets should all be printed at 250dpi-300dpi or more.

A good rule to follow is when in doubt, select a higher dpi for your material.

3. High-Resolution Images

Most businesses consider 600dpi and higher to be a high-resolution image or print. High-resolution images require more memory to store and can take longer to scan. Storing high-resolution images can quickly fill a hard drive or server. Many desktop printers can’t reproduce high-quality and high-resolution images. Professional print services are often the best solution for high-resolution images.

Keep in mind, there are diminishing returns for increasing the resolution of an image. Any print above 1,200dpi will deliver improvements that are practically unnoticeable to the naked eye. You won’t be able to see any difference between documents. Only professional photographers or artists with highly detailed work will need resolution that high.

Other Factors That Influence Print Quality

DPI isn’t the only factor that determines the resolution and print quality. Often, these other factors can have more impact on quality and resolution.

For example, sometimes users will change the resolution of an image in software like Photoshop. This will increase the DPI, but it won’t change or increase the quality of the image. The pixels in the image are larger, resulting in a pixelated, almost unprintable, image. This is known as upsampling.

The printer, and ink used in the printer, can also affect print output. Laser jet printers use a toner that doesn’t bleed into the paper, producing a crisper image. Inkjet printers will bleed, which can lower the appearance of dots per inch for a printed work.

What Is DPI and What It Means for You

Selecting the right DPI printing services and office technology is important. Dots per inch is one factor that can influence the efficiency and cost of print services. It’s important to identify your business requirements and scanning and printing needs before selecting print services.

Learn more about business solutions and print services from the experts at Donnellon McCarthy and how they help companies improve efficiency, reduce costs, and achieve performance benchmarks.