FAQs - resolution

Your file is only high resolution at a certain size.

If you are dealing with a vector file, there is no resolution (vector files do not use pixels and cannot be said to be high res or low res). See vector graphics here.

Resolution illustration

Any file can be shrunk in size enough to make it high resolution. "Resolution" is simply a count of how many pixels a file contains in a given area (typically, a count of pixels per inch or ppi).

So is your photo high res? You can only answer this when you know how large it needs to be printed. Every raster image is made up of a grid of pixels. Pack more of them into a given area and the resolution increases (higher resolution). Spread those pixels out over a larger area (a larger print) and the resolution (count of pixels in every inch) drops.

Here's a method for figuring this out:

  1. Open the file in an image editor (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.)
  2. Find out the pixel dimensions:
    1. In Photoshop, go to Image -> Image Size
    2. The image's pixel dimensions are shown in red. Divide these numbers by the desired output resolution. For example, the above image shows the resolution to be 176.825 ppi at 24.25 x 16.106 inches:
      1. 4288 ÷ 176.825 ppi = 24.25 inches wide
      2. 2848 ÷ 176.825 ppi = 16.106 inches high
      Dividing by a different resolution will yield a different output size. For example, if you need the image to be high resoluion you should divide by 300. Note that the output size drops accordingly (below). We're simply packing more of the available pixels into every inch:
      1. 4288 ÷ 300 ppi = 14.293 inches high
      2. 2848 ÷ 300 ppi = 9.49 inches wide

An image can be resampled in Photoshop but not with any gain in clarity. The image will indeed become higher res, but no additional true detail will be added to the image.

If you are not clear about resolution, feel free to give us a call.

A good print starts with a good file.

Providing us with a healthy digital file is the best way to ensure the quickest and most cost-efficient print service.


Build the file to the size you want it to print. For example:

  • If you want a finished size of 8.5 x 11, build your file to that size.
  • If you are designing a banner, find out what size the banner should be and construct the file to those dimensions.
  • If you want a poster to be printed at two different sizes, you'll probably need to set up two different files…one for each size.


Ensure sufficient resolution for images:

  • large format: generally 150 ppi at output size is good for large format posters
  • digital and press: try to provide 300ppi at output size
  • fine art and photography prints: 300ppi will giev the best quality and detail

Do not bump up image resolution beyond 300ppi unless the image is intended for enlargement. If you're not sure about how resolution works, call us.

File formatAdobe PDF

Whenever possible, provide us with a PDF. Microsoft formats (Publisher, Word, Powerpoint) are very difficult to print from. Please export to PDF and check to ensure that the PDF looks exactlyhow you want it before you send it to us.

TAGS: file format, PDF




Vector Graphics 

Raster Graphics 

Image is created by 

Geometrical shapes, lines (vectors) A grid of pixels

Capable of spot colours?

Yes Technically yes, but not without difficulty and only in some file formats.

Capable of RGB and CMYK colours?

Yes Yes

Good for photos?

No Yes

Good for logos?

Yes No. Raster files are quite bad for logos.

Typical file formats


Scalable to any size?

Yes No

So which one is better?

Neither. They both have their uses. A photo should be stored as a pixel-based format such as TIF and JPEG, but when a logo is stored in these formats serious limitations are placed on its ability to be scaled, printed and used in general. A logo should be stored as a vector file.

Can I just re-save the file into a vector format?

No, that's impossible. In order for a raster file to be made into a vector file it needs to be re-drawn or traced. A computer can do this (Adobe Illustrator has this ability) but it can only do a nice job under certain conditions. Normally a human will need to do this process using some vector tools. Simply re-saving your image as an AI, EPS or PDF will not convert your file into vector data.

Still confused?

Don't worry about it. Give us a call.

TAGS: bitmap, raster, vector

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