Determine Scan Resolution Settings

Article ID: ART153495 | Date published: 06/02/2015 | Date last updated: 03/08/2020


Learn how to determine the best resolution to use when you scan images or documents.


Resolution is the amount of detail your printed page contains. This article tells you how to set the resolution on your printer for maximum results.

About resolution settings

  • The data in an image scan is a collection of dots that carry information about brightness and color.
  • The density of these dots is called the resolution, and dpi (dots per inch) refers to the number of dots in one inch.

  • The higher the resolution (number), the more detail in your image.

  • The lower the resolution (number), the less detail in your image.

Normally, you should select a resolution that corresponds to where your image will be sent (for example, monitor or printer).

You can specify the desired scanning resolution within the scanner software.

How to set the resolution

For display on a monitor
  • Images for display on a monitor should usually be scanned at a resolution of 75 dpi.
For printed images
  • For black and white images, set the resolution for the image to match the resolution of the printer. For example, if you use a 600 dpi black and white printer, you should scan your document at 600 dpi.

  • For color images, set the resolution at half of what you set for the printer. For example, if you use a 600 dpi color printer, you should scan your document at 300 dpi.

For printing to scale
  • If you enlarge a document, (for example to 2x the size), reduce the document resolution by half. If you set the resolution of the original document at 300 dpi, the resolution of the enlarged document should be 150 dpi.

  • If you print the document with a 600 dpi color printer, the lack of detail in the image may be obvious. In this case, if you scan at 600 dpi, the resolution will be 300 dpi even if you double the size of the document.

  • If you want to print a document at a reduced size, it should be enough to scan at half the resolution.

Resolution and size data
  • Normally, you should set the resolution to the smallest setting possible to get a good result. If the resolution doubles, the file size quadruples, which slows the print process and uses up memory.

The diagram below shows how sizes of a formatted file change with resolution settings for an A4-size (21 x 29.7cm) image scanned with the Color mode set to Color.

The shaded portions of the circles show approximately how much space on a CD (640 MB) the files require.
75 dpi/1.6 MB 150 dpi/6.4 MB 300 dpi/26 MB 600 dpi/105 MB 1200 dpi/418 MB
disc shows 75 dpi/1.6 MB disc shows 150 dpi/6.4 MB Disc shows 300 dpi/26 MB Disc shows 600 dpi/105 MB 1200 dpi/418 MB



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