All too often, DPI and resolution are thought to be the same. However, while DPI and resolution may both be important to the quality of a photo, they are not the same thing.

To better understand their differences, and what they both mean for image quality, let’s look at what makes these two image elements different, and what that means for the photos they affect.

The Differences Between DPI and Resolution

The main difference between DPI and resolution is straightforward: higher resolution means more detail, while a higher DPI means a higher resolution level. Another difference is that, although many people still believe that DPI is ideal for web and digital imagery, it simply is not.

DPI is solely a print measure, and is primarily used by all of us at Ironmark when we are focused on integrating print into our digital campaigns.

Resolution is used to analyze the quality of a photo and is useful in both digital and print media.

To better understand this, let’s look at what actually makes up both of these media-related terms.

A Basic Rundown of DPI

According to Tech Terms, DPI “stands for "Dots Per Inch” [and] is used to measure the resolution of an image both on screen and in print. As the name suggests, the DPI measures how many dots fit into a linear inch. Therefore, the higher the DPI, the more detail can be shown in an image.”

DPI is primarily a print measurement, as the measurement doesn’t seamlessly transfer to digital media. When DPI is used for print, the standard is 300DPI, as it presents the best quality image. In the past, it was thought that a 72DPI was ideal for digital media, but when expanded to match a 300DPI image, the quality was abysmal.

Now that you know a bit more about the dots per inch measurement format, let’s analyze resolution and how it ties into image quality, both in print and digital marketing and media.

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A Basic Rundown of Resolution

When it comes to graphic design, social media, marketing, print, or any business-related imagery, resolution is sure to play a role. Resolution, according to Lifewire, “refers to the number of pixels [an electronic image] contains, usually expressed as millions of pixels, or megapixels (MP)...The greater an image's resolution, the better its quality.”

As such, resolution is often used to determine the quality of both digital and printed images, and is also used to measure the size of photos in many cases. For example, if you have a blog photo that is 800x600px in size, this means that the image is 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels long. This is why high-resolution photos are one of the things your graphic designer needs to hit the mark on your print media, website and other graphics.

In the end, DPI and resolution are both elements that make up a high-quality image, and are often used side by side to produce print media, but resolution is all that matters when it comes to digital media. Hopefully, you’ve learned a great deal from this overview and, perhaps, it will allow you to significantly improve upon your current digital and print campaigns.

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Written by Reid Broendel

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