I work with documents mixing text and bitmap images, for which the final format is a PDF file. Most of the times, I produce my own graphics, which means that I have a choice of:

  1. Creating all bitmap images at very high resolution, embed it in the document, and post-process the final PDF document to downsample all images to my target resolution (say, 300 dpi).

  2. When I create the bitmap images, export them at a size consistent with the target resolution and intended size, then include them in the document (and no need for downsampling later on).

The second option has one major downside: it means that if I change my mind later (e.g., I want to include an image at twice the original size), I have to recreate the bitmap image file. It's not a very big deal, but still. Because, I cannot see any downside to the first option, that's what I regularly use.

My question is: how do you arbitrate between these two options? Do you always work with overly high resolution images, and downsample everything as the last step?

  • What software are you working with? Many programs allow you to link to files rather than embed your files, which might offer some more flexibility when it comes to "changing your mind" about your image sizes. Nov 24, 2012 at 14:43
  • I use LaTeX for the most part, so yes, it links to images… but when I produce a PDF file, the images are then embedded. I can change the size, but if my image was initially right at 300 dpi, it might now only be 150 dpi and I would have to recreate it.
    – F'x
    Nov 24, 2012 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you already have the answer: stick with option 1, which offers you a good amount of flexibility, and probably saves you time in the long run.

However, in my experience, there have been times when I preferred to resize the images and place the correctly sized image in my document. This has usually been either because:

  1. I wasn't happy with the downsampling results (I've had problems sometimes with programs like LibreOffice not producing very crisp low-resolution images for producing PDFs to display online or send by email).
  2. I was trying to squeeze the file size down as low as possible while maintaining a given resolution; working with good photo editing software (eg Gimp or Photoshop) would allow me to preview my images while I adjusted different quality parameters.

Thus, what I usually do is have all my images in a subfolder in my project directory and then, if fine tuning is required, I create a copy of that folder (in case I ever need to revert to an earlier version) and I modify the source images as required.

But, as mentioned in my opening line, for most purposes, sticking with option 1 is probably sufficient; after proofing your PDF, you can decide if it is better to optimize your images prior to placing them.

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