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Digital Image Requirements for Graphic Designers

Updated on August 28, 2019
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The author is postgraduate in Botany and experienced in IPR handling as well as agribusiness management with an MBA, lives in a farmhouse.

Digital imaging

In the modern-day world, digital images of high quality are common. Everyone now owns a high-resolution camera available on their mobile phones. The mobile phone makes it easy to click pictures, but sometimes we use the pictures of different sizes at different places and users end up in confusion resulting in the use of low-quality images in the place where we need high-quality ones. In the image pool, there are plenty of pictures available, which are taken by amateurs than professionals.

Images convey a lot of ideas to the onlookers. Therefore, publishers are quality conscious. If the authors are also quality conscious, it will be a great combination to produce the best results. Good context, good image, good text content, all together make very impressive creative output. Further, the exchange of images and videos on the Internet, need more data bandwidth and high storage space.

Let us understand more on the subject of optimizing images for different targets. Those who do an advanced search of images on the Internet and those who are in the designing industry are aware of an extra-large, large, medium and small category of images. Here we go through these categories elaborately.

Individual specifications

Everyone deals with images in this selfie era. However, very few persons use the right image in the right place. Such images will receive appreciations.

Large images

Hoardings, banners, newspaper cover page advertisements, magazine cover pages, book covers, and digital photo print album covers need large images. Hoardings and banners demand picture resolution of 600 ppi, whereas, other print media need images in 300 ppi resolution. For hoardings and banners, they use 1-inch image = 1-foot output ratio, whereas, for print, they use actual size images. A good camera is an absolute necessity for getting high-resolution images for these outputs. A compromise on the gadget will result in poor quality image and less impact. However, a graphic designer can determine the layout design of these creations.


The largest image size requirement is for hoardings. Hoardings are the outdoor visual advertisement media, which use very large images which can be seen from a long distance, for those who travel by the roads. The dimension of hoardings is of 10 feet in height and 10 to 14 feet in width. You need a camera of at least 10-megapixel resolutions for clicking an image for that size.


These are also visual impact devices for attracting onlookers. The success of putting banners depends also on the images they carry. Usually, banners are of two to four feet in height and six to ten feet in length.

Newspaper ads

Printing by the offset technology needs high-quality images which are linked to the design layout documents to produce high quality printed output. Front cover and back cover inclusive advertisements will be very big. Thus, the image requirement also will be larger. A 30 inch by 22-inch advertisements is common now a day for which actual size images in 300 ppi is preferable.


A chart paper size (double demy) paper of 45 inches by 22 inches or digital prints on a poster paper roll of 36-inch width and desired length, usually 50 inches require high-quality images. Even though the poster size is big, we often use smaller images in them. However, we need actual size digital images having 300 ppi resolution for posters.

Cover photos

Photo albums, as well as cover pages of magazines, require high-quality images. The quality and appearance of the cover page sell these products, therefore, you need at least a 9-inch x 12-inch size digital images having 300 ppi resolution for cover pages or you need the photo which is as much the size of the cover page in that resolution.

Large size images

Image size required for a 14 ft. x 10 ft. hoarding
Image size required for a 14 ft. x 10 ft. hoarding

Medium size images

Importance of original images and videos are increasing more than ever before, as each one is an independent publisher, images and videos overcome the language boundary and education levels. These are attracting viewers of all walks of life into social media. Social media-based digital marketing takes advantage of these as tools. When these provide free entertainment and information to the viewers, attractive images are valuable.

Camera phone images

Mobile phones and digital camera clicks of below 10MP are directly uploadable with ease on social media. These gadgets give a good result on outdoor clicks. So, hint to mobile phone and Handycam users is to click good natural photos instead of mere selfies, so that your images will be appreciated by the global users.

Images for the contents

Compared to the outdoor media, the photographs appearing in news items, web pages, and reports are of medium size. Even if it is the medium size we cannot say that they are of low quality, they need good resolution and clarity to give a good impression for the audience. You may know that a high-resolution Retina display has 220 ppi output, whereas, an ordinary mobile phone display and computer screen has 72 ppi output resolution. Here, both image resolution, as well as the device quality, determine the appearance.

Medium quality images are needed for book content, social media web pages, Facebook timeline pictures, and Instagram pictures. In general, a 9 in x 6 in size image having 300 ppi resolution may be kept as a basic image while capturing images.

Newspaper image

The above quality of images can be sent as such to newspaper and magazine content pictures. They can easily suit for a magazine flush-cut layout or quarter page-wide photo on a newspaper.

Facebook images

The Facebook cover needs a bigger picture among social media, like website homepage image. It needs a picture of 18-inch x 10-inch size in 72 ppi. However, Facebook timeline and profile pictures are considerably smaller than print production.

Instagram images

Instagram optimum photo size is 15-inch x 15-inch photo in 72 ppi. Recently Instagram also accommodates odd size images by adjustment.

Pinterest images

Pinterest requires the images with an optimum of 8-inch x 12-inch photos in 72 ppi. Tumblr photos are also similar, with few pixels lesser than Pinterest.

Other social media

Facebook timeline photos, website content pictures, Linkedin or Twitter photos too are of about 15 inches x 10-inch size in 72 ppi resolution. However, these are not so rigid rules. They accommodate slight higher or lower sizes without any hindrances.

Medium size images

Presentation slides and many social media pictures are like this
Presentation slides and many social media pictures are like this

Tiny images

The thumbnails and news feed lead pictures need small images which are less than 10 KB in size. These images are used only to indicate a link, to the main article to highlight the importance of the article, for further reading.
Similarly, the profile pictures of WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media need low resolution and small size images which are appearing just for indication. Smaller size allows these pictures to appear quickly on your mobile phone or websites and cropping it to the available size can fit it in to the point of use. The smaller size gives you quick loading of the page for an overview of the content. Therefore, these digital pictures carry only hinting value.


The visual impact is the tactics used by the media for gaining success. After reading the above, the custodian of the images can understand what type of image has to be used for a given context. Judicious use of the camera or mobile phone imaging makes the content interesting and time saving to make readers pleasant. Unlike the olden days, present-day technology of 4G mobile data speed and leased line internet allows the readers to get access to the images quickly.

Here is a table, which gives you the overall idea, about the various images.

Various uses of images, their size and resolution requirements

Image use
Size requirement (In)
Resolution (ppi)
14 x 10
10 x 6
45 x 22
Newspaper ad (double page)
30 x 22
Cover page (Magazine)
9 x 12
News photo
12 x 9
Album/ news content
7 x 5
Facebook-Cover/ website
18 x 10
15 x 15
8 x 12
Presentation slide/ Fb timeline/ Other social media
15 x 10
Thumbnail/ Dp
2 x 2 / 1 x 0.6

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Halemane Muralikrishna


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