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What resolution should I use when scanning photos?

When scanning pictures, one of the options you will encounter is what resolution to use. The resolution basically means the level of detail you want in your scan. The greater the resolution, the greater the detail. This also affects the size of the scanned image. The greater the resolution, the larger the resulting file.

So what do you use? The answer depends on the purpose of the scan. If you are scanning pictures to use in a web page or in a Powerpoint presentation, you need a resolution meant for images displayed on a monitor, or through a projector. If you are going to use the images in a printed publication: a poster, a book, a newspaper, etc., then you need a different resolution, one that would have greater detail.

Here’s a list of basic resolution numbers:

  • 96 dpi: the lowest resolution that one should use. This works for images used in web pages, Powerpoint presentations, Acrobat (pdf) files.
  • 200 dpi: Color or greyscale laser printers. If you are making brochures or handouts that will be printed on the average laser printer, this is the resolution to use. This resolution would also be recommended for black and white images destined for most newspapers.
  • 600 dpi: Higher quality printing. Magazines or other professionally printed material: CD-ROM covers, posters, books, etc.

There may be instances where you would need a resolution that’s higher or somewhere inbetween. If that’s the case, contact the person doing the publishing of the image and discuss what is needed.




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