In what format can my photograph be used in print publications?

Do you want to publish a photograph in a magazine or a print publication? In this case, it is important to provide a photograph with an adequate resolution. But what is an ‘adequate’ resolution? And how do I edit my photograph? Here are some practical tips.

What is resolution?

The resolution is linked to the quality of your photograph. An image is made up of a gazillion pixels, and it is the density of these pixels that determines your photograph’s resolution. In addition, a photograph features dots per inch or dpi, and the better its quality, the clearer the image will be. But how many dpi do you need for a print publication? For optimum print quality, you need 300 dpi, the standard in force among printers.

How to edit a photograph’s resolution?

Do you own Adobe Photoshop?

YES

  • Open Adobe Photoshop

  • Open the photograph

  • In the ‘Image’ menu,

  • Select Image Size. A new window will open. Perform the following steps (which should be followed in the order indicated, otherwise the result may be inconsistent with the actual format):

  • Make sure that the ‘Resample’ box is not ticked

  • Configure ‘width/height’ in millimetres or centimetres

  • Configure ‘resolution’ in pixels/inch (not pixels/centimetre)

  • Set the resolution to 300 dpi

  • The format in which the photograph can be published in print is now shown in ‘width/height’.

NO

In this case, there are free tools available online to help you out

  • For example, download the free software IrfanView

  • Open IrfanView

  • Open your photograph

  • In the ‘Image’ menu,

  • Select ‘Information’

  • Enter ‘300’ x ‘300’ dpi in ‘Resolution’

  • Click on ‘Change’

  • The ‘Print size’ field will then show the maximum size in which the photograph can be published in 300 dpi. 

What to look for when taking photographs

These days, photos taken with a good camera, and even with the majority of smartphones, can generally be used in sufficient formats for print.

However, think of checking your camera’s parameters before taking your photographs: select the highest quality (which is often expressed as ‘Fine’ or ‘Superfine’) as well as the largest size possible (Large).

The larger your photograph will be, the more pixels it will contain and the larger the size it can be printed. This also implies that it will take up more space on your memory card.

Good to know

  1. At first sight, a 100 kB photograph is unlikely to be suitable for use in print publications. Unless you wish to publish a postage stamp. However, appearances can be deceiving as some files are so compressed that they can still be used in the correct formats. Therefore, check the resolution and size of your visuals as explained above.

  2. Whenever you open an image and you right-click on that photograph, you can see the number of pixels and the resolution for the photograph through the ‘Properties’ and ‘Details’ options.

  3. Avoid images ‘fished’ on the Internet. These photos generally have a resolution of 72 dpi, which is too low for a print publication. Knowing that resolution and size work according to the rule of three, to achieve a resolution of 300 dpi (= x 4.16), you will have to divide the size of the photo by the same amount (= /4.16).

Gunther De Kegel, Production Manager
Gunther De Kegel, Production Manager

Gunther De Kegel

Production Manager