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Life size image in Photoshop

I'm designing my first business card for a client so this question is a matter of printing. Here's my question; how come when I make my canvas 3.5in x 2in (at 100% zoom) it's not as big as the business card when I hold it up to the screen?

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marked as duplicate by e100, Yisela, Scott, plainclothes, JohnB Dec 21 '12 at 17:07

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Because your operating system and monitor have no concept of what 3.5" is in the real world.

They COULD know that but it's not something that screens and computer operating systems/software have necessarily agreed upon. ;)

All your software can do is approximate a translation between real world measurements (inches) and device pixels. Most operating systems today translate that to 96 pixels per inch. So, if you draw a 1" square in your design software, 100% on screen would be 96 pixels.

This would be fine if all screens were built with a resolution of 96ppi (pixels per inch) but that is not the case. They vary (somewhere in the ballpark of 80ppi to 120ppi or so--and that's not including all the new high ppi devices like iPads). On top of that, you can change the dpi resolution of your screen.

As such, 100% in your software will always been a loose translation and will vary from device to device (at least until operating systems and hardware agree to render things in real-world measurements...hopefully we'll get there sooner or later).

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That was a very thorough answer. Thank you for the answer and may O.Ss and hardware agree sooner than later. –  Keller Sep 5 '12 at 6:46
    
"Most operating systems today translate that to 96 pixels per inch. So, if you draw a 1" square in your design software, 100% on screen would be 96 pixels." This bit isn't right - the OS uses a PPI value to scale text, buttons etc in the interface, but this value is not inerited by design software. –  e100 Sep 5 '12 at 10:01
    
...most design software (PS, ID, Acrobat, but not AI) enables you to set a PPI value explicitly. –  e100 Sep 5 '12 at 13:22
    
@e100, well, I'd argue that's still set via software. Albeit a setting that one can change--which is handy and a good point to good that you brought it up. –  DA01 Sep 5 '12 at 16:28

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