Have you ever tried to print an image and was told the image isn’t large enough to produce a quality image? It can get frustrating. Here’s how to choose the right print size and how to fix a low-resolution image.

How images are measured

Images are measured in pixels. The more pixels, the better quality and larger print you can make. Sometimes an image may look great on your cell phone or computer; but when it’s printed, it looks bad. This usually happens when you try to enlarge or crop an image that doesn’t have enough Pixels Per Inch (PPI) to print. Don’t worry, there are a few solutions to fix this.

The easiest solution is to print an image size that matches your pixels. For example, if you want a standard 5×7 print, the image needs to be at least 1500 pixels wide and 2100 pixels tall. The formula is multiplying the inches of your print by 300. So for our 5×7 print, you multiply 5 by 300 to get 1500, and 7 by 300 to get 2100. Instead of doing the math, you can always follow this chart.

Print size (in) Image size (pixels)
4 x 6 1200 x 1800
5 x 7 1500 x 2100
8 x 8 2400 x 2400
8 x 10 2400 x 3000
8.5 x 11 2550 x 3300
9 x 16 2700 x 4800
11 x 14 3300 x 4200
16 x 20 4800 x 6000

Adding pixels to enlarge a print

If you want to print larger than the number of pixels the image has, you need to resize or scale the image. Adding extra pixels to an image means the software has to interpret the pixels and make the best guess on what pixels will look best next to each other. This isn’t an ideal solution, but it may be the only option. You can accomplish this in Photoshop using Image Resize, but a better solution is to use an application specifically designed for the task. ON1, Topaz and PhotoZoom Classic 7 were created to give the best image resize possible.