Image Sizing Explained

Small image of a cowboy next to a larger, blurry version of the same image.

This image demonstrates what happens when you upsample an image.

At some point, you’ve probably tried to make a Twitter icon, a handout, a web banner, or image for your presentation, and just got frustrated with all the weird image sizes and how things just don’t quite size up. This pic looks great on my phone but it prints blurry, or tiny! I want to make this image my twitter icon but it’s huge! How do I find the right size image for my Powerpoint slide? What’s all this business about pixels, resolution, dpi, and ppi anyway? What does it all mean, and how does it translate between cameras and web and print? Well good news; today is the day you understand all that because I just found one of the most well organized articles on this topic, and I’m here to share it with you! By the title, it’s a publication geared toward scanning medical images for screen presentation, but it’s actually just foundational knowledge crucial to anyone working with digital images.

Hopefully after reading that, you’ll have some sort of understanding of what to look for depending on your design situation. If your department is fortunate enough to have graphic designers, then they’ll be proud of you for being able to talk to them without sounding like a caveman.

Cave wall drawing of two black bison heading in opposite directionsAfter all, our pictures nowadays have advanced a little beyond sharp rocks on a stone wall. And seriously, if I see you savvy seeming types going out of your way to resize an image for web at 72 ppi, I’ll…I’ll…okay I’ll probably just say nothing and smile politely (i.e., judge you quietly). Here’s a little nerdier read on Wikipedia about dpi, so you might want to tackle that too if you’re feeling ambitious. Good luck, and see you on the other side!

But WAIT, I still haven’t told you exactly HOW to resize an image! Well, it’d be impossible for me to show every person reading this article how to resize a photo on their own software of choice, but that’s what Youtube is for! Here’s an example of a tutorial I found simply by using the search term “resize image.”

Watch a few more tutorials on Youtube or through OSU’s free access to, and you’ll be all set to make your own icons, stationery, thank you cards, and more from templates provided by OSU’s branding page. If you get stuck, stop by any of the Digital Unions, where Photoshop is installed and staff are happy to help.


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