I've created these flash cards in illustrator where the artboards measure 9 centimeters by 9 centimeters (that's about 3,5 X 3,5 inches for our American friends). Now when I export by artboards in Illustrator (CS6) I get asked at what resolution I want to export them, options being:

  • Screen (72 ppi)
  • Medium (150 ppi)
  • High (300 ppi)
  • Other

I'm not too sure what option to choose. All I want is that when I print these puppies that they'll be 9cm X 9cm and that it'll look as crisp as possible. I have no experience in print and I would really appreciate some help with this. Thanks!

  • Why would you export them to a bitmap format in the first place?
    – joojaa
    Sep 30, 2015 at 9:43
  • What is this 'bitmap' you speak of? You meaning to say that I should just print the artboards out directly from Illustrator? Sep 30, 2015 at 9:44
  • No im saying you should directly save them as PDF (using save as).
    – joojaa
    Sep 30, 2015 at 9:50
  • @Dean ‘Bitmap’ is (in this context) more or less synonymous with ‘raster’; that is, it’s the opposite of vector graphics. Vector graphics are resolution-independent, since they’re based on mathematical definitions of shapes, lines, and colours. Raster/bitmap graphics are based on each individual pixel carrying a certain amount of information—and the information in each pixel is all there is. A 3.5x3.5 image at 72 ppi has 252x252 = 63,504 pixels; at 300 ppi, it has 1,050x1,050 = 1,102,500 pixels worth of information and detail. Sep 30, 2015 at 11:33
  • 1
    300 ppi should make your flash cards look perfectly amazing but if your printer maxes out at 150 ppi then you can save the file at 150 ppi to avoid wasting 2x HDD space.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Sep 30, 2015 at 12:30

3 Answers 3


Unless there is a specific need to convert it to bitmap (raster image, as others have explained in comments) because, for instance, this is all your printer can handle, none of those. Always leave vector art as vector art. Export to PDF and print (or have it printed) from that (unless you need to print directly from your own Illu to your own printer; in that case no conversion of any kind is necessary).

  • After reading the other comments I agree. Sep 30, 2015 at 12:43
  • To expand a little: while it is true that 300ppi is the "standard" for images (photos) printing at ~150 line halftone screens, leaving things vector allows the RIP device/software to make the decision about appropriate resolution. Text (for example) is output at a higher resolution.
    – Yorik
    Sep 30, 2015 at 21:18

Always use a ppi over 300 if you want it to look as crisp as possible (300 should work perfect). Use 72 ppi only for web etc.

  • Great thanks! Though would it still be 9cm X 9cm then when I print it? Sep 30, 2015 at 9:18
  • 1
    @DeanGrobler sure, if you set the doc with 9cm x 9cm. Export your ai-file to pdf. Here's a step-by-step tut: youtube.com/watch?v=wNE5fjENCps
    – Code 3
    Sep 30, 2015 at 9:22
  • 1
    Hi Code 3, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. If you have any questions, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Sep 30, 2015 at 12:04

No reason to export as a PDF either - (unless you want to share it with someone digitally that does not have Illustrator.) Simply print from Illustrator.

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