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Recently I needed to make an A3 size poster for my college fest so I opened up a new .psd, set the dimensions to 11.7" x 16.5" 300 PPI under 16-Bit.

As you know the file size ran into 100 MBs and also I my computer lagged while putting text/images over that document. My questions are:

  1. For printing a poster, should I go for 8-bit or 16-Bit mode?

  2. For putting my poster on the web what should be the PPI because I think 300PPI is just too much? Also, should I go for 8-bit or 16-Bit mode?

  3. My computer lagged while editing, so if I'm designing an A3 size poster for printing, can I lower the quality (e.g. 100PPI, 8-bit) just for the sake of ease of making it prevent lagging once the poster is complete, switch it to optimum quality as before? Will it effect anything provided I'm using high-res images?

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For printing a poster, should I go for 8 or 16-Bit mode?

16-bit color is usually overkill for most any project. Professional photographers will often use it for the flexibility it provides when editing RAW imagery, but beyond that, it's not usually something you'd need to deal with.

For putting my poster on web, what should be the ppi because I think 300 is just too much?

On the web, PPI is completely irrelevant. PPI settings in PhotoShop are only relevant when a) you are printing and b) the software you are printing from recognizes PhotoShop's PPI setting and automatically sizes your image to match. (This means that most of the time, the PPI setting in PhotoShop isn't really relevant outside of PhotoShop.)

For the web, ignore PPI. All that matters is the pixel dimensions. If you want to display your image 800 pixels wide, make it 800 pixels wide.

Also should I go for 8 or 16-Bit mode?

I'm not aware of any file format on the web that supports 16-bit color.

As you know that my computer lagged while editing, so if I'm designing an A3 size poster for printing, can I lower the quality(e.g. 100ppi, 8-bit) just for the sake of ease of making it/prevent lagging and once the poster is complete, switch it to optimum quality as before?

You can but...

Will it effect anything provided I'm using high-res images?

Yes, you will essentially be working with a 100ppi image. While increasing resolution in PhotoShop can improve the image quality slightly, it can't magically turn low-res imagery into hi-res images very well. So you typically don't ever want to increase the resolution of your image as the gains aren't there.

All that said: Note that posters rarely need to be 300ppi. The 300ppi 'standard' typically refers to quality print work done for hand-held reading. Typical example being decent quality magazines.

A poster is rarely read at the same distance as a magazine. Most people will view a poster from 3-10' away. At that range, 300ppi is overkill. You likely can get away with 150ppi in a lot of cases (if not even lower).

Finally, consider using a vector-based tool in the future such as InDesign or Adobe Illustrator. This is often the best of both worlds. For instance, you may import a background photo at 150ppi, but then set your type in Illustrator on top of it, giving you the maximum resolution for your type that the printer supports.

  • Thank you @DA01. So the bottom line is: 1. For A3 printing, I should go for 150 ppi. 2. For web usage, I should go for a res like 1024 x 768 and say 72 ppi? Correct me if I'm wrong. – Hyperbola Jul 6 '14 at 13:53
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    For posters (regardless of size) 150ppi is often good enough. For web, again, ignore ppi. It only adds confusion. But yes, if you want your image to be 768 pixels wide, then make it 768 pixels wide. – DA01 Jul 6 '14 at 14:03
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    To clarify the PPI issue with the web, a 768 pixel wide image at 72ppi will display at exactly the same size in a web browser as a 768 pixel wide image at 300ppi. In fact, it'd be the exact same image. The only difference is the ppi meta data in PhotoShop. – DA01 Jul 6 '14 at 14:04
  • @DA01 repetition is paying off. Congrats this is now very well done answer, closing on the best i have seen – joojaa Jul 6 '14 at 15:15
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If you are designing something that is going to be printed out. You should use 300ppi so it will look sharp and clear once printed. On the other hand, when designing something that is going to be displayed on the pc/web/displays it should be 72ppi. Other large printouts including rollups, banners etc have various ppi's.

  1. To answer your first question. I've honestly never felt the need to use 16bit, I always used 8bit and I've read you can use 16bit only if your printer supports it. 8Bit should be just fine.

  2. If you want to display your poster online, you definitely need to make another smaller version of it at 72ppi and decrease its dimensions a bit to something about 1920x1080 if you want it to show full screen or so. Again definitely 8bit.

  3. If you start working on your design while it is in lower resolution as you said (100ppi) just for the sake of lag and then increase the resolution to 300, your design will be affected and lose quality. You can always work on high resolution and shrink it, but not vice versa as most elements will lose quality. Id advise you to always start on the actual size of the document (A3) using 300ppi. Regarding the lag, Id recommend working on a more powerful machine as designing takes alot of system resources such as RAM etc..

Bottom line: anything for web/displays/screens we mostly use 72ppi. For print materials we use 300ppi. Larger print materials like rollups, banners, wall-posters we use 150ppi to 200ppi.

  • 300ppi is key for lots of documents, but often overkill for posters. Posters are designed to be viewed at a very minimum of arm's length--if not from several feet away. At that distance, 300ppi is often overkill and unnecessary. – DA01 Jul 6 '14 at 13:27
  • Also, PPI has nothing to do with the web. The web is agnostic when it comes to PPI settings in PhotoShop. – DA01 Jul 6 '14 at 13:27

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