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Design Quality Check

Before a design is sent to print, we want to make sure your order is produced in the best possible way. While we currently don’t provide a printed proof of a design before printing there are some things you can double check to avoid encountering any problems along the way.

Here’s what you can look at before placing an order:

  1. Image properties – This includes an image’s resolution and file format. These both play an important role in keeping a photo clear and ready for printing.
  2. Colors used – Some colors will look different when printed because of the limited color options available for print. This affects neon and pastel colors in particular.

If you need a printed proof you may order the smallest quantity.

Checking photo size and resolution

Image sizes for print need to be in high resolution. This means the larger the image (measured in pixels), the better it will reflect on a physical design. The recommended minimum resolution for printing is 300 DPI. This gives you the maximum size you may use your photo for printing.

Meanwhile, images for the internet are typically compressed to display on a computer monitor making them lower in resolution. This is to keep the file size small for faster download. A computer monitor can only display 96 DPI (for Windows) or 72 DPI (for Mac) in an inch. This means, when you print a 72 DPI photo, the result will not usually look as clear as it would on the monitor.

Here’s how to check if your photos have the proper resolution for print:

Checking resolution on a PC

  1. Select the image you want to use.
  2. Right-click on the image and select Properties. A window will appear with the image’s details.
  3. Go to the Details tab to see the image’s dimensions and resolution.

Checking resolution on a Mac

Checking a photo’s resolution on a Mac can be done using Preview, the default image and PDF viewer program.

  1. Open the image on Preview.

  2. After image opens on Preview, click on Tools from the menu bar on top.

  3. Select Show Inspector. Details on the image dimensions and DPI should show.

Photo file formats

Canva currently accepts the following file formats for photo uploads:

  • JPG (.jpg)
  • PNG (.png)
  • SVG (.svg)

Additionally, we strongly recommend that your photos be under 25mb.

Photo Color Space

Before you design anything intended for print, it’s important to understand the difference between RGB color and CMYK color to ensure that the document created looks as good in print as it does on screen.

Both colors render differently depending on which medium they are used for, whether it be on the web or in print. So, how do we know when to use which one?


(Image Source)

CMYK is a four color mode which uses the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black to create the necessary colors when printing images. This type of color setting does not include a white color because it assumes that printing will be on a white paper. Depending on the percentage of each color used, the white from the paper will be used to fill the space, making shades appear lighter. When the first three colors are added together, the result is not pure black, but rather a dark brown. Black is used to completely remove light from the printed picture, which is why the eye perceives the color as black. (See illustration above.)

RGB on the other hand is a type of color mode that combines the colors red, blue and green to create a variety of colors. This color scheme is commonly associated with electronic displays like LCD monitors, digital cameras and scanners. When all three colors are combined and displayed to their full extent, the result is a pure white. When all three colors are combined in the lowest degree, or value, the result is black. Photo editing programs use the RGB color mode because it offers the widest range of colors.

In a sense, the two color spaces are opposites. Converting from one color space to another will not always be perfect but a close match can still be achieved. (Source: Highland Marketing: Getting to Know RGB and CMYK)

Vector based images

Images that are vector based are constructed with mathematical formulas rather than a fixed number of colored pixels. This means they will scale without pixelation when enlarged. Ideally company logos and brand graphics are created as vectors to use in different mediums needed such as business cards, letterheads, and posters.

Canva accepts vector based images in .svg (Scalable Vector Graphics) file format only. Other file types are not yet supported.

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