Thursday, July 22, 2021

Why does that image look so fuzzy?


One of the continuing frustrations of creating printed bulletins is finding the perfect image online, only to see it come out fuzzy when you hold your bulletin in your hand on Sunday. Why does this happen?

The short answer is that computer displays and printed pages have different requirements for images to look sharp. A typical computer screen has a resolution of only 72 pixels per inch, or PPI. That means that any image with a resolution of 72 DPI (dots per inch) or greater will look nice and sharp on your screen. By contrast, if you want a sharp image on the printed page, the minimum resolution should be 300 DPI. Anything much less will look fuzzy or pixellated. So an image that looks great on your screen may or may not look good in your bulletin, depending on its DPI.

So how can you tell if an image that you are working with has a high enough DPI? There are programs available to identify the resolution of an image; Preview comes with every Mac. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t have a similar program built in. However, you can use the Graphics Manager feature in Publisher to find out an image’s resolution: just select the image after you’ve placed it in your document, click on the View tab in the Ribbon, and check the box labeled Graphics Manager. The Graphics Manager will open in a sidebar on the right side of your screen, where you can move your cursor over the name of the selected image and click on the little triangle that appears. In the box that then opens, select Details, and one of the items reported will be the Effective Resolution. As long as it’s anywhere near 300 DPI or higher, your image should look fine on the printed page. If not, you should seek a different image or find a version of that image with higher resolution.

Another quick check is to place the image, then print the page on your printer. If it looks sharp there, chances are that it will look right in your printed bulletin.

Fortunately for you, we work hard at J. S. Paluch to make sure that every image that we post to the Subscriber Resource Center (SRC) has the appropriate resolution for printing. As long as you download the image properly, you can be sure that our images will look good in your printed bulletin. When you use images from other sources, you just have to be a little more careful.

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