EDITOR’S NOTE — The Alabama Baptist welcomes submissions of staff changes, events and other news happening in your church and association. When you submit an item, it’s super helpful to us if you also submit a high quality photograph (or several) to help us share your story. Often, the resolution of submitted photos is too small for us to print, which delays your news item being published. Generally, smartphone cameras will capture high resolution photos, but you might have your camera’s settings adjusted so that your storage doesn’t fill up so fast. We totally understand! If you are taking photos of a church event, however, take a minute to change the camera settings so you capture higher quality images that can be used across online and print platforms. Trust us — you’ll be glad you did! We asked Mark MacDonald to share some tips for image resolution. Read on to learn more.
As a church communicator dedicated to effective church communication, you understand that visuals play a pivotal role in conveying your church’s message. Whether it’s for your website, social media or printed materials, getting the image resolution right is crucial.
Image resolution refers to the amount of detail an image holds. It is typically measured in dots per inch (DPI). Resolution is dependent on the device or channel you’re producing for. Screen resolution requires the lowest DPI and professional printing requires the highest.
Your goal: clarity and sharpness. High-resolution images look crisp and clear. This is vital to make your church materials visually appealing and not pixelated (a choppy, blocky, or fuzzy appearance).
Print and online/screen platforms have different requirements. While online images have a lower DPI (72 to 100 DPI is often sufficient), print materials demand higher DPI, usually 300 DPI, to ensure quality.
Images will pixelate when enlarged, leading to a loss of quality. So never enlarge an image beyond its preferred DPI. NOTE: Enlarging an image twice its size reduces the DPI by half (i.e. 4 inches by 4 inches at 100 DPI enlarged to 8 inches by 8 inches makes it 50 DPI — smaller than a screen requires).
- Know your medium. Determine where the image will be used. Online: 72 to 100 DPI. Professionally printed materials (brochures, postcards, etc.): 300 DPI. Office Printers? Often 150 to 200 DPI.
- Start with high-quality images: It’s OK to downscale a high-res image but not to upscale a low-res one. In fact, you can’t “add” resolution to an image that’s too low in resolution. You can only reduce its size.
- Resolution adds file size: Beware! When using high-resolution images, it adds size to your file. So don’t overdo resolution. Especially for website delivery, you always want image files to be as small as possible so your file size remains small enough to deliver quickly over the internet. That’s why, for online use, you should optimize images by compressing them without losing much quality. Use formats like JPEG for photographs and PNG for images requiring transparency. And reduce web images to 72 to 100 DPI.
- Testing resolution: Take the overall image size (in inches) and multiply the inches by the DPI requirement to get the correct DPI resolution (i.e. 3 inches by 4 inches for screen resolution 100 DPI will be 300 by 400 DPI; but for high-end printing 300 DPI, it would be 900 by 1200 DPI). If in doubt? Ask the manufacturer for the DPI requirement. If you’re starting with resolution and wonder how large you can use the image effectively, divide your DPI by the required resolution to get the approximate usage size in inches (2000 by 3000 DPI divided by 100 DPI for screens, means you can use it at approximately 20” x 30” on a screen).
Be careful about image resolution. This technical aspect of communication is foundational to looking great. Understanding and correctly implementing image resolution for print and online materials enhances your church’s branding and ensures your message is conveyed with the professional impact it deserves.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark MacDonald is a communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of Center for Church Communication. His book “Be Known for Something” is available at BeKnownBook.com.