DPI vs PPI – What’s the Difference? Online & Print Resolution Explained

DPI vs PPI – What’s the Difference? Online & Print Resolution Explained

 A pixel is nothing but just a DOT.

The term ‘Pixel” has come from the words “picture” and “element”, and this which is the smallest unit measures the digital image.

The number of pixels makes a high-resolution picture, and the low number of pixels make little quality pictures.

The number of pixels in a grid determines the resolution on your screen. Pixels usually are situated in a 2-dimensional grid.

A pixel is a photographic theory that has a history, Frederic. C. Billingsley, an American engineer in 1965, came up with the ideology of pixels by being the first to publish a picture element in two papers.

Though DPI vs PPI both are terms for describing the resolution of images, no, they are not the same thing.

DPI is dots per inch, which represents the physical dot of ink to be printed on paper for that image whereas PPI is pixels per inch, which describes the number of square pixels in a digital screen.

Understanding some details about how a picture is utilised, how they are availed, how they are engraved can make a vast, impressive difference in the proportion of documents, web pages, emails, etc.

PPI (Pixels Per Inch)

Ppi Vs Dpi

Let us understand what does PPI stand for.

PPI is the sum of pixels per inch for your picture.

The quality of the output and print size of your image will be strongly affected by this.

So when there are two fewer pixels per inch, then the pixels will be huge, and you will get a very pixelated image, this is how it will affect the output quality.

It seems rudimentary, but for many, the real confusion of DPI vs PPI starts here.

For an acceptable PPI for a printout of your image, there are a few different kinds of numbers put around. A lot depends on the fact that the size of the print is small or big.

You get away with a lower PPI, having the image look okay; this is because you look at a giant print from a far distance than a small print.

By this, you understand that PPI affects the print size of your image.

There are ways you can change the print size of the image by resampling or by not resampling. Resampling will alone change the size of the print, and this usually is not supposed to be done, nor it is advised.

So just in case you don’t resample, changing the PPI settings will increase or decrease the print size, it will increase if you will drop the PPI and it will decrease if you improve the PPI.

Pixels do not exist on paper, but to simplify the explanation of PPI and print size, I want you to imagine that each image pixel from the digital file to be represented by a small square on the photo paper.

Resampling is not suggested, when you resample and change the PPI, you will lose on the pixels (when you set it to low PPI), or you will have pixels created (if you boost the PPI).

Creating pixels is an awful idea, computer-created pixels are not those, and the output is not satisfying, so it is not suggested.

Throwing away pixels is fine as long as you don’t need a bigger size of the image that is why saving an original file is a good idea.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

Dots Per Inch

So now let’s understand what DPI is and what DPI stands for and what role does it play.

DPI is technically dots per inch. Like tiny little dots of ink, not square picture elements.

DPI is referred to as printers too. Now – a – days printers use more colours for every pixel output as it is made up of different coloured inks, but earlier they used only 4-5 colours.

You are making up the colours for the image the printer needs to be able to mix the inks, so a little number of colours is recommended.

Sub-pixels – every pixel of your picture is made up of a series of small tiny dots. Generally, the more you raise the DPI, the better is the tone colour of the image, the colours should look nice and combined between two colours there should be smoothness.

When you use too much ink, the print job will be passive.

You should be changing your printer setting to the low DPI to save the ink and make the print job active; you will recognise a difference in the quality of course.

But changing it to the lowest setting where it doesn’t affect the quality and doesn’t drop down the colours, should be the best one.

Printers create a print by spraying little droplets of ink on the paper. It takes many dots to form one pixel for the image.

The layout of the ink droplets is all taken care of by the internal software of your printer.

Tiling pixels directly on top of one another is a big no for recreating your image and printers don’t do that.

Instead, it is better to recreate your image by sputtering out minute dots consisting of a blend of different colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black), which in-cooperate to generate hues by the decreasing colour model.

DPI measures the density of the space between the dots.


Resolution Pixel Examples

Measurements of width x height are expressed by the unit resolution, and it is the measure of the pixel which can be for any image whether on a digital platform or in print form.

More decision means an incredibly detailed picture. Higher DPI means high resolution and no resolution does not indicate size.

They are different terms altogether. There is always a tiff about the resolution, images are to be bigger, but that is not the case. 300 dpi is the standard resolution.

This all matters to the client because, as a thumb rule, the higher the resolution, the better the tonality and the smoother its colour blending will be.

150dpi is almost considered the minimal standard for excellent quality photographic recreation in books and magazines.

The newspaper usually uses 85dpi, and the effect is apparent; individual dots are visible, and some details are lost. You can never guess that billboards go as low as 45dpi because you view them from far.

The difference between DPI vs PPI

Pixels Vs Dots

The primary difference between DPI vs PPI is, DPI is physical ink-dots to be printed on paper whereas PPI means the number of square pixels contained in one inch of an image displayed on a computer monitor.

DPI represents the characteristics of the physical printer, and PPI represents the characteristics of a digital image.

In short, these terms represent the frequency of dots and pixels accommodated in one inch but on various devices.

If your file exceeds 300PPI, it will affect the printing of your image, and that is what you need to take care of.


Make your pictures smaller, and it can be a boon to you.

Think about how your image is going to come out and then imagine it and make it only as much as big or small it is required. 

Analyzing the appropriate DPI vs PPI to be used for your image, picking up a suitable size in pixels is extremely important. E.g., 400 pixels wide is a great start if you want your picture to be five inches on the screen.

Want it five inches on paper, and then maybe around 1500 pixels wide would be enough.

There is different software available for making changes from DPI to PPI or PPI to DPI.

Changing DPI in illustrator, read articles on how do you convert PPI to DPI, there is online DPI to PPI converters available.  To save from PPI to DPI, Photoshop is also a great platform.

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