How Large Can You Print a 96 DPI File?

When creating designs online, your file may be saved in 96 DPI. While this is fine for digital files, there are limitations when it comes to printing your design. So, you might be wondering, “exactly how large can 96 DPI be printed?”

Though 300 DPI is considered the standard for print, the further away you are viewing from, the less DPI you need. You can print 96 DPI as large as a 20″ x 30″ poster while retaining high quality from a 3-foot viewing distance.

Even if you’re a master graphic designer, printing can be a bit confusing. Below you’ll find out how large 96 DPI files can be printed.

How Big Can A 96 DPI Be Printed?

When it comes to printing, the DPI, or dots per inch, of a file is a big deal. Generally, you’d want your resolution to be at a 300 DPI. However, this isn’t always possible, and it isn’t always necessary either.

As a general rule, large prints that will be viewed at a distance can and should be printed at a lower DPI. 300 DPI is best applied for prints that are viewed at arm’s length or less. Anything thing farther than that does not need to appear as sharp up close, since the eye can’t capture those details at a distance.

Here is a DPI calculator to help you find the resolution requirements for your needs.

That being said, files with a 96 DPI are typically better for large prints that are viewed from at least a few feet awy. This could include:

  • Billboards
  • Movie Posters
  • Banners
  • Subway Posters
  • Transit Advertising (ad on the sides of buses and planes)
  • Floor Graphics

While many of these would work with a 96 DPI, some of these materials could even be printed with a smaller resolution. For example, billboards can be printed at a resolution as low as 30 DPI.

How to Format Your File for Large Printing

If your goal is to develop your file as a large format print, then DPI isn’t the only thing you’ll need to worry about. Making sure your file has the correct formatting will ensure the best results of your final product.

Raster vs. Vector

When setting your DPI, it’s important to understand whether you are dealing with a raster file or a vector file.

If you’ve downloaded your design from Canva or Placeit, then you are more than likely working with a raster file. These files have a set number of pixels and will become pixelated when stretched to fit a space larger than it was meant to. This could limit how big you are able to print if the PPI (pixels per inch) of the image is too small.

Vector images, on the other hand, are made up or data points instead of pixels. Vector files can be set to any DPI without the risk of distorting the image.

Bleed on Large Prints

Bleed is especially important on larger print. Bleed essentially extends the image beyond the edges of the printing surface to ensure that there are no unprinted or cut off graphics in the final product.

Typically, your file should have at least 2 inches of bleed on all sides. For example, if you are printing a 40” x 60” poster, your file size should be 44” x 64” with bleed. 

Does 96 DPI work for Smaller Prints?

If 96 DPI is ideal for large prints, what about smaller print sizes?

Generally, you’d want a 300 DPI file for prints such as photos, wall art, brochures, fliers, etc. Anything that is going to be viewed at arm’s length or less need to appear sharp to the viewer.

If your file is at 96 DPI and you would like to print it smaller than poster-sized, there are a couple things you can do to fix this.

The easiest option is to use a program like Photoshop or GIMP to edit the file. However, this will only work if the file is high-quality.

Another option is to use an online image converter to make adjustments to the file. This is especially useful if you’ve downloaded your file as a Print PDF from Canva.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what you can print with a 96 DPI file. While the general rule for printing is to always set your file at 300 DPI, this isn’t the case for large format prints that are viewed from a far distance, and 96 DPI would work fine.