What Resolution Should You Print Your Layouts At?

DSD Professionals published a terrific article this week called Digiscrap at 200 ppi or 300? The Debate Continues.

The article explores whether the current digital scrapping standard of 300 ppi (dpi) is actually the best resolution for digital scrapbookers or whether it is based on a false premise and we should really be scrapping at 200 dpi. Given that it is only in the last year to eighteen months or so that the digital scrapbooking world has informally accepted 300 dpi as its standard resolution this is a somewhat controversial issue.

So before you read any further on this article, I recommend that you click over to Nichole’s article and wrap your head around what she has to say.

This was not a debate that I was aware of. I just assumed that it was an accepted thing that the best printed out layouts were produced at 300 dpi. But according to Nichole there is some vigorous debate going on amongst industry professionals about which is really the best choice.

Seeing is Believing

So I thought ‘seeing is believing’, why not do my own test and and prove it to myself. I selected one of my layouts and resized it to 8×8 for printing on my HP B1000 Inkjet Printer and printed it at a resolution of 300 dpi. Then I changed the resolution to 200 dpi and printed another copy on the same quality paper at the same ‘best’ print setting. Unfortunately I can’t show you an illustration of the two comparisons because all images on the web are sized at 72 dpi so they’d both look identical.

And at first glance they both did look identical. I waited until the following morning so I could view them in the daylight, rather than artificial light. And I found there was a very slight variation in quality. It was most noticable in the text, especially where the text was very small, such as on the printing of the magazine page.

The text on the 200 dpi print out was clearer than on the 300 dpi print out!

And the quality of the graphics in the layout appeared identical.

Now I should point out that I have never printed out any of my layouts using commercial printing firms. So I have no idea what type of printers they use and whether they would experience the same results as I experienced on my little desktop ink jet. Perhaps the result would be very different and 300 dpi would be a better quality result because their commercial printers don’t over saturate the ink the same way that ink jets have a tendency to do.

So it seems to me that this is something that really does need to be sorted. Are we choking our computers with unnecessarily large files that we don’t really need? If there is no difference in quality from commercial printing firms when printing 200dpi layouts then it would appear the answer is Yes. Many of the readers of Scraps of Mind are digital scrapbooking designers. Do you have a view on this? I’d be really keen to hear it.

Whatever the outcome, what this has demonstrated to me on a personal level is that I am better off to print my layouts at 200 dpi rather than 300 dpi and the added bonus is that I will not be using as much ink on each printout.

Why not take the test yourself and see what you think. I’d love to hear what your results are and your views on this topic. And I’m sure, so would Nichole at DSD Professionals.

Other related posts:

Scrapbooking Techniques & Tips – Printing your Digital Layouts
Scrapbooking Techniques & Tips – Upsizing Photos
Digital vs Traditional Scrapbooking


17 Responses to What Resolution Should You Print Your Layouts At?

  1. Pat August 15, 2007 at 7:51 pm #

    This was really interesting to me because I am so new at Digital Scrapbooking (actually scrapbooking of any kind!). I never knew why I used 300 dpi but I saw that others did it so I did too. Now that I am more comfortable doing things I am starting to question why I do certain things. I am interested in seeing what other people say too! Thanks for posing the question.

  2. PaintChip August 15, 2007 at 11:02 pm #

    I was wondering how your experiment was coming along. Thanks for sharing it online so others could hear about your results. You aren’t alone in your discovery either. I did the same thing about two years back when I accidently bought a 200-ppi product and wondered about the quality of it. After finding the quality to be TERRRIFIC, I started to do some research and boy was I surprised to learn how many others were 200-ppi scrappers and why.

    Now I’m a fan of the 200-ppi setting and do all my personal pages in 200-ppi. For the most part I create all my artwork in 200 ppi, including my scrap-for-hire projects. There are, many digi-scrap designers who have switched over to creating strictly in 200-ppi, including my favorite designers at the Digital Scrapbook Place website. I’m so glad too!

    Good on you, my friend for giving it a test try before simply accepting what others say! I wish more people would do that.

    BTW – Thanks for the pingback, and I stumbled your article too. It’s a great read!

  3. LindaF August 16, 2007 at 1:05 am #

    Wow, that is interesting. I’m more of a traditional scrapbooker, but I’ve used my printer plenty for titles, journaling and some embellishments. Very good to know.

  4. Tink August 16, 2007 at 3:22 am #

    When I was working for as a graphic artist and attending the Adobe workshops, I had been advised that the optimum save setting should be 1/4 to 1/3 of the dpi of your printer; but never more than 1/2. If your printer is a 300 dpi one then your should be saving your work at 75-100 ppi and no more than 150. Once home printers start coming out at 1200 dpi or more, it may become more advantageous to save at a higher setting; until then 150-200 should be sufficient for most home printers.

  5. karooch August 16, 2007 at 2:24 pm #

    Glad you found the question interesting ladies. I have to admit I was totally surprised when I saw the result. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and views on the subject too.

  6. Kayla aka The Legacy Lady August 17, 2007 at 1:12 am #

    Karen this is a great post! I have a different slant on this because I have printed my layouts in many ways. At home I have an Epson R1800 printer and I usually print at 300 dpi.

    Personally I believe that designers should share their creations in at least 300dpi.

    I do realize that the layouts may print out better at 200dpi on a regular inkjet printer and that is worthy of consideration.

    However, if digital designers limit their designs to 200 dpi they are basically limiting how customers can print their layouts.

    One of the ways I output my layouts are in hardbound books. I have printed the same book with both Shutterfly and Heritage Makers. Shutterfly prints at about 200dpi – and while it is ok – Heritage Makers printers and paper print the best quality at 300 dpi – the difference is very noticeable.

    I also print my layouts at Costco on a 12×18 page with one 12×12 and two 6×6 layouts – the quality is much better at 300 dpi.

    Another consideration – I will buy designs and enlarge the tag or frame or element to fit in with the overall design of my page. That is one of the things I love about digital – it is flexible – I can change the items on my page to the size I need. With those items starting at 300dpi – when I enlarge them a bit they are still quality. I don’t think that would be the same starting at 200 dpi.

    I believe the designers should continue to produce at 300dpi – it is a one step process for the consumer to change the resolution of their layout to 200dpi before printing – leave the options to the consumer.

    I think the answer here is not to change the dpi items are produced at but to educate digiscrappers so they can take full advantage of the many options available to them.

    Just my two cents – I apologize for the book!

  7. karooch August 17, 2007 at 8:20 am #

    You have some great points there Kayla. I have never used commercial printers so that was a gap that I couldn’t include in my test. I didn’t know if the higher resolution resulted in better printouts when done commercially. You have experience that says it does. So that’s a powerful argument for the 300 dpi camp.
    I also agree with the flexibility of being able to resize elements coming from a higher resolution.

    I do like your suggestion though that as digital scrappers we need to have a better awareness of stuff like this so we can tailor our own output to get the best we can from it.

  8. Beka August 17, 2007 at 3:07 pm #

    Karen, I am a complete newbie to digital scrapping, so this is the first I’ve heard of this controversy. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I am definitely going to be considering this before printing anything up. Of course, since I’ve done exactly two layouts, I’m not too worried yet!

  9. karooch August 17, 2007 at 10:42 pm #

    Ah, but once you start on digital there’s no turning back Beka.

  10. Olga August 18, 2007 at 12:16 am #

    Very interesting article and also very interesting comments. Trying out the result at home and knowing other people experiences in commercially printed layouts does give you a lot of information to make a good choice. Mainly I guess the issue would be that if you want to print at home or don’t want to enlarge elements 200dpi would do it, but if you are going to print your layouts at a shop or want to increase size, you will need 300dpi. So clearly designers if they want to be competitive and give choices to their customers are going to need to create at 300dpi. :)

    Thanks so much for the article, sharing the experience and all the people’s comments. :)

    Best wishes. :O)

  11. karooch August 18, 2007 at 8:30 am #

    Thank you Olga. Yes it should always come down to individual preference and if there is a significant difference in commercial printing quality then that is a very strong argument for continuing to design in 300dpi. You can always downsize but upsizing is not as easy.

  12. DreamScrapper August 18, 2007 at 12:53 pm #

    Very informative article! I have linked to it here: http://dreamscrapping.blogspot.com/2007/08/resolution-200-ppi-vs-300-ppi.html

  13. karooch August 19, 2007 at 4:14 pm #

    Great follow up article DreamScrapper.

  14. Sharon August 20, 2007 at 7:49 am #

    Karen, this is a very timely article for me. I’m about to start a digital scrapbooking online class so will be printing my very first digi layout real soon. Wonder if this means that I need to prepare my hubby for spending some $$$ on a bigger printer as i’ve only got an A4 sized inkjet printer at the moment?!

  15. karooch August 20, 2007 at 8:09 am #

    Hmmm Sharon, I think any time is a good time to prepare him for a new, bigger, faster printer. Good luck with your online class. I’m sure it will be fantastic.

  16. Kelly August 20, 2007 at 10:47 am #

    When I have time I will have to read through all of the comments left here. But you posed a really interesting question. I notice that all my photos I download are at the 72dpi – and saw somewhere they were wanting submissions at 300dpi… Now, I have no idea as yet how to change all of those things so I’m sure I will learn in time. But that is very interesting that 200 would be as good as – if not better – than 300.

  17. karooch August 20, 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    Well most cameras usually download at 72dpi Kelly but they make the dimensions of the image huge. Check out my article on Upsizing Photos to see how to resize your images. Alternatively you can open a new file in your photo editing software at the resolution you want and drag your photos into it. The software should resize them automatically.