DPI Meaning: What Does DPI Stand For?

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

In short, DPI stands for dots per inch. It’s an acronym commonly used in the world of printing, and is a measurement of the level of detail that can be produced by a printer. 

The higher the DPI, the higher resolution the print will be — this is because the more dots per inch there are, the more sharply detailed and defined the image will be. So, DPI is an incredibly important thing to understand when dealing with printed projects. Here’s a rundown.

DPI Meaning In Print: What Exactly Is DPI?

DPI is a measurement of dot density, or the number of dots per square inch that a printer is capable of printing. 

When a printer prints out an image, it does so by recreating the image with a series of tiny dots, row after row. The fewer dots, the blurrier the image. The more dots, the clearer the image. 

A printer’s maximum DPI helps you to determine the overall resolution of an image that the printer is capable of achieving. A high DPI means the printer is capable of printing in a higher resolution, and a low DPI implies the printer prints lower resolution images. 

For this reason, DPI is a great indicator of print quality, especially if you’re dealing with especially detailed images. 

DPI Meaning vs PPI Meaning

In the printing world, DPI (dots per inch) and PPI (pixels per inch) are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two that is worth distinguishing. 

Technically, PPI refers only to the number of pixels on a digital image, and DPI refers to the dots of ink a printer can make on a page. While many printing facilities will use the two as if they mean the same thing, they really don’t.

It’s an easy mistake to make, as both DPI and PPI are references to the quality of an image. However, DPI means dots per inch on a printed image, and PPI means pixels per inch on a digital image.

DPI Meaning & Industry Standards: High, Medium, and Low-Resolution

Now that you know what DPI stands for, what DPI means in the world of printing, and what the difference between DPI and PPI is, it’s worth discussing the industry standards surrounding DPI.  

Here, we’ll outline the typical DPIs for low, medium, and high-resolution prints? 

What Decides the Resolution of an Image?

So, what exactly determines image resolution? Some may say DPI, while others might say PPI. In reality, it’s a little of both.

PPI determines the resolution of the image, while DPI determines what resolution the image can be printed at. An image could have a high PPI, but if the DPI is low, then that high-resolution image is going to come out looking much lower.

Ultimately, you will want a high-resolution image and a printer with a higher DPI to achieve a truly high-resolution image.

What Are High-Resolution Images?

High-resolution images require both a higher PPI and a higher DPI. Without a high PPI, then it won’t matter how high the DPI is — it all starts with high-resolution digital images. 

Somewhere in the realm of 600ppi to 1200ppi is typically considered a high-resolution image. Digital artists and photographers need to reach this level of PPI in order to capture and display all the fine detail present in their work. 

Typically, you’d need a professional printing service in order to see these images properly printed. High-resolution images typically cost the most to print and take up the most memory storage on computers.

What Are Medium-Resolution Images?

Medium-resolution images need a PPI between 200 and 300. Unless your images are extremely detailed, medium-resolution is probably all you need to achieve your desired print quality.  

300dpi is the industry standard for high-quality print resolution. Most printers print at this resolution as a default. 

It’s a good rule of thumb for you to only print images at 300dpi or higher because this will give you the quality you desire without resulting in a DPI that’s too poor or too sharp.

What Are Low-Resolution Images?

An image with a lower PPI will result in a low-resolution, low-quality printed image. Low-resolution images typically have a PPI of 150 or less. 

Likewise, the lowest-quality printers are the ones only capable of printing at 150dpi or less. The lower DPI you’re printing at, the blurrier and grainier your image will turn out.  

A lower DPI will lack the clarity that high-resolution images are known for, is usually noticeable to even the most basic observers. This is why it’s important to stick to 300dpi or higher. 

How To Get The Image Resolution You Want

If you want to get your image resolution right, it’s crucial to know the size of the image you want. PPI is determined by pixels divided into paper size, and DPI is determined by ink dots divided by paper size.

Without knowing the size of the image you need, DPI and PPI are meaningless. Make sure you add all this information in the DPI settings of your design software, like InDesign or Photoshop, if you’re printing at home. This will make your job much easier.

DPI Meaning & Gaming

You might sometimes hear DPI in reference to gaming, specifically your gaming mouse. As it turns out, DPI is a common way to measure mouse sensitivity. 

In this instance, DPI measures distance per inch. It measures the distance the cursor moves across a computer monitor in relation to how much the user actually moved the mouse.  

For gaming, the best DPI depends on the kind of game you’re playing.

For example, massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and role-playing games (RPGs) do best with a gaming mouse between 1000 DPI and 1600 DPI. However, first-person shooters (FPSs) do best with a gaming mouse between 400 DPI and 1000 DPI.

Printing Your High-Quality Images

If you’re looking for a professional service to handle and print your high-quality images, look no further than Banana Print

With over 10 years of experience in the printing industry, Banana Print has developed a web-to-print system, available to you 24/7. Visit our website to learn more today.

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