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Banner resolution: lower than you think

High banner resolution

Graphic designers may be surprised to hear that 100 dpi is the best resolution for banners. Here’s why:

People usually view banners from far away. When they’re viewing a high-resolution printed catalog, you need a high (often 1200) dpi print because the catalog will be within 2 feet of the viewer’s eye. But most banners are viewed from 10 to 20 feet away. At that distance, you can’t tell the difference between 100 dpi and 1200 dpi.

(Actually, you can: if you print a banner at 1200 dpi, it will look grainy because it contains too much information. The 100 dpi banner will end up looking smoother – i.e. better.)

Banner printers use special technology called multi-pass printing. Items that are intended for close-up viewing, like catalogs, are printed with one “pass” of the printer head. But each ink dot on your banner is actually printed in multiple passes. On average, each section of a banner has been printed with 6 passes of ink. Each additional pass smooths the image and reduces pixellation.

High resolution banners

The exception to the 100 dpi rule is when you are printing on a trade show banner. Because the material is much smoother, it supports a higher resolution – ideally 300 dpi. Vector graphics will come out even smoother and crisper.

To find out why 100 dpi is the minimum resolution, read our companion article: Banner Resolution: part 1.