Pixels per inch (ppi) and pixels per centimetre (ppcm or pixels/cm) are measurements of the pixel density (resolution) of an electronic image device, such as a smartphone, computer monitor or television display, or image digitizing device such as a camera or image scanner. Horizontal and vertical density are usually the same, as most devices have square pixels, but differ on devices that have non-square pixels.
Pixels per inch (or pixels per centimetre) can also describe the resolution, in pixels, of an image file. A 100×100 pixel image printed in a 1 inch square has a resolution of 100 pixels per inch. Used this way, the measurement is meaningful when printing an image. It has become commonplace to refer to PPI as DPI, even though PPI refers to input resolution. Industry standard, good quality photographs usually require 300 pixels per inch, at 100% size, when printed onto coated paper stock, using a printing screen of 150 lines per inch (lpi). This delivers a quality factor of 2, which is optimum. The lowest acceptable quality factor is considered 1.5, which equates to printing a 225 ppi image using a 150 lpi screen onto coated paper.
Screen frequency is determined by the type of paper the image is printed on. An absorbent paper surface, uncoated recycled paper for instance, lets ink droplets spread (dot gain)—so requires a more open printing screen. Input resolution can therefore be reduced to minimize file size without loss in quality, as long as the quality factor of 2 is maintained. This is easily determined by doubling the line frequency. For example, printing on an uncoated paper stock often limits printing screen frequency to no more than 120 lpi, therefore, a quality factor of 2 is achieved with images of 240 ppi.