Print Resolution and DPI Explained


Print Resolution and DPI Explained

In this article you’ll learn what ‘DPI’ and ‘resolution’ means when we talk about thermal label printers.  When you’re looking at the specifications for a printer or when someone mentions DPI, you’ll understand what it means.  You’ll also learn what DPI resolution printer suits your situation best.

We’ll cover:

  • Dots per Inch and printer resolution.
  • How to decide what resolution I need.
  • See before you buy.

Let’s take a closer look:

Printer Resolution and DPI Explained:

DPI stands for Dots Per Inch which means how many dots of printing you get per of inch.  It is also known as resolution.  A higher DPI printer will also be a higher resolution printer.  In other words a 300 DPI printer has a higher resolution than a 200 DPI printer.

DPI Examples
The above image shows the difference between 203, 300 and 600 DPI print

A higher DPI means a clearer and crisper print. When it comes to thermal label printers, 203 dpi is standard but there are higher DPI printers – 300 dpi printer resolution is common but you can also buy 600 dpi printers.

Example labels printed 203 and 300 dpi
203 DPI and 300 DPI labels
203 DPI and 300 DPI labels

What DPI Printer Resolution Do I Need?

Deciding the print resolution you need is something you need to do before choosing a printer.  You need to consider:

  • Clarity and readability – the higher the resolution or DPI the sharper the image printed.
  • Print speed – the higher the DPI, the slower the print speed.
  • Size of text – the smaller the print of the text or symbols used, the higher the DPI needed to ensure legibility.
  • Cost – higher DPI resolution printers cost more and replacing the printhead costs more.

How Are You Using Your Labels?

As a rule of thumb:

  • If the person looking at your labels is thinking of buying the item (i.e. you want to present your products in the best light), choose 300 DPI printer resolution. 
  • If the label is a packaging label used by the warehouse or used in an industrial setting then choose 203 DPI. 
  • If you are printing a small label and you need text smaller than 7 point then go for 300 DPI.
  • If you are printing small labels (typically less than 10mm wide or tall) and you need a 1D or 2D barcode (QR Code or Datamatrix code) on it, consider a 300 DPI or 600 DPI printer.
Zebra ZT610 600 DPI High Resolution printer
Zebra ZT610 600 DPI High Resolution Printer

600 DPI printers are not widely used but can be essential in electronics or sometimes jewellery and pharmaceutical industries.

See Before you Buy

We are able to test print 203 and 300 DPI labels for you.  Let us send you a sample print out and see for yourself. 

We don’t have a 600 DPI printer in house, but if you are considering a 600 DPI printer it’s highly recommended that you test the print first.  600 DPI is available on a limited range of printers and the cost is high.  Contact us with what you need and we will arrange for a printout for testing.

We're Here to Help

We have more than 25 years experience with barcode label printing and are here to help you.  Click on the chat button in the bottom corner, contact us through our Contact Us page or call us now on 01359 271 111 for Expert advice.

Useful Links

Wikipedia’s Thermal Transfer Printing article mentions printhead resolution:


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