Adobe InDesign: Why Do my Images Look So Bad?
No one wants to see a low-resolution, pixelated image in their InDesign layout, but it happens all the time. There are three primary reasons why:
- You placed a low-resolution file into your layout. Remember the rule of thumb for color or grayscale images that are intended for print on large commercial printers: scan at a resolution of 1.5 to 2 times the screen frequency used by the printer. For example, if your output device uses a screen frequency of 133 lpi (lines per inch), then your image should be between 200 and 266 ppi (pixels per inch). You can view the resolution of your placed file by selecting its name in the Links panel and checking the resolution settings:
- You placed a file with appropriate resolution into your layout, and then enlarged it, effectively lowering the resolution. You can see when this happens in the Links panel, as well. At the original size, the image below was 300 ppi. When I doubled the image size in InDesign, I lowered the effective resolution to 150 ppi.
- You did everything right and it still looks pixelated. If you have checked the image resolution in the Links panel, and have the appropriate Actual & Effective resolution for your output device, then it’s most likely simple a matter of customizing the display settings. Choose View > Display Performance > High Quality Display. It will take InDesign a few seconds longer to display your page, but the result should look significantly better! (If you need more details on Display Performance contols, see Adobe InDesign: Display Performance Controls—They’re Everywhere!)