Can I Use 72 DPI Web Graphics for My Print Project?

The Difference Between 72 DPI and 300+ DPI in Printing (And Why You Need to Care)

Every day we wake up in a world that tells us to just say no. We say no to drugs, alcohol, bad habits and the overwhelming urge to throw in the towel, rob a bank and retire to the Caribbean. Why? Not because we want to, but because we know we should. I’m here to tell you that when it comes to your printing and graphics for your print project, this isn’t all you need to say no to. You also need to say no to 72 DPI.


How printer savvy are you? Those of you who could re-configure your printer settings in your sleep probably already have a basic working knowledge of DPI and how it’s going to affect the quality of your digital printing. On the other hand, if you looked at the acronym DPI and immediately thought, “Damage per what?” you really need to know what we’re about to tell you if you’re going to get maximum effect from your print projects.

DPI stands for Dots per Inch. Do you remember Dot Art? You had to have done at least one of these spotty projects when you in school. Your art teacher told you to pick up the pencil and make dot after dot in a small space until you had the shape and shading you were trying for. The more dots you had, the cooler your picture was going to be.

Think of those dots as your DPI. These are the dots of color a printer uses to create the precise shape and shade of your picture. Yes, every example of digital printing you’ve ever seen is just a really sophisticated, automated example of elementary dot art. How cool is that?

72 DPI vs. 300+ DPI

This is where we have to dig a little deeper into the technological properties of website graphics and print graphics. When you go to a website, what’s more important to you:

• That the graphics are clear, the quality is crystalline, the picture is able to be re-sized and the hidden quality of the images captivates the eye, or…

• That the page loads sometime before the advent of the next century?

Yeah, we voted for the second one too. Functionality is priority #1 when you’re cruising a website. Oh, sure, it’s nice if it looks nice, but you’re going to get a lot more out of the text of the page actually loading than you are out of the graphics. Website designers have to carefully balance both, which is why they opt for a 72 DPI image.

What a 72 DPI image loses in quality it gains in maneuverability, making it a perfectly viable choice for your webpage. On the other hand, if you were to take that 72 DPI image and blow it up using current printing technology, what you’d get would be a blurry, pixilated mess.

Now, let’s talk high-resolution, 300+ DPI graphics. (For the sake of this article, feel free to interchange DPI and PPI in your thought process. Yes, we know there’s a difference. We’re just not going to get into it right now!) These graphics have 300 or more pixels of color per inch and, as a result, produce images that are of a much higher quality than their 72 DPI cousin next door.

A printer is going to consistently reject 72 DPI images when it comes to printing projects, so get your thinking cap on and start thinking in terms of 300+ DPI for your graphics.