Working with monitor resolution

Monitor resolution is measured in the number of pixels that are displayed on the screen. Monitors have various preset pixel settings that you can choose from, depending on the size of your monitor and the amount of video RAM you have. Common monitor resolutions are 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1280 x 820, and 1600 x 1024 pixels. Monitor resolution settings are also referred in graphic display standards such as VGA, UXGA, and so on (refer to Table 3-1).

When viewing screen images, output resolution settings really don't a play a role. Because the display of images on-screen is based on a one-to-one ratio (one image pixel per screen pixel), what matters is that you want your image to fit inside your monitor when viewed at 100 percent.

Unlike printer resolution, monitor resolution is a one-to-one (1:1) ratio.

This is where pixel dimensions come into play. When you view an image onscreen, the display size is determined by the pixel dimension, plus the size and setting of the monitor. For example:

i A 17-inch monitor usually displays 1024 by 768 pixels. When you view an 800 x 600 pixel image, the image fills only part of your screen.

However, change your monitor setting to 800 x 600, and the same image fills the screen (of course, each pixel appears larger).

i An 800 x 600 pixel image fills the screen of a 15-inch monitor.

But if you were to view a 1024 x 788 image, it wouldn't fit inside the screen; you would have to scroll to see the image.

Bottom line: Establish the level of your audience and use the appropriate pixel dimensions. I recommend using a pixel dimension of 800 x 600 as your default image size. That way the majority of the people will be able to view your image adequately.

For images to be viewed on-screen, you may see recommended output resolution settings of 72 to 96 ppi. That's because monitors display at 72 to 96 dpi, which is an easy number to remember. But keep in mind that when you change the dimensions of your image, it will always be at a one-to-one ratio with the monitor.

If you view an image whose resolution is higher than the monitor, the image appears larger on-screen than in its printed state. For example, try opening a 300 ppi JPEG file into a browser window. It spills way past the screen boundaries. That's because the monitor can only display 72 to 96 ppi at a time, and it would need a lot higher resolution to show all the pixels in the image.

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