Image resolution for portfolios.

Hi guys,

I was wondering, is it common for most students/grads to have TWO portfolios: one high res for printing and one for web/emailing?

For a portfolio to email to prospective employers, I was thinking of starting my InDesign document on the right foot and make sure ALL my images/photos are 72 dpi. Is that the best?

and for printing, a separate one at 300 dpi, or is there a better way I should go about it?


you could do one document 300 dpi and later when you export to PDF for example you can lower the image resolution so your file size
stays low. Has worked for me for a long time. I’d also suggest you to have some online portfolio. We used to send prints out back in the day but not so much

FYI, you can link your Photoshop files directly into In design, so no need to save as jpeg…

Glad you are up late too. :slight_smile: Thanks for all the tips. Ok, so, for example; if my portfolio was 40 pages and it had 300 dpi images in it, then you think when exporting it to PDF from InDesign, it would still be under 5mb?

That’s what I am afraid of, as my instructor (and what I have read on here) recommend nothing above 5mb or so.


PS- as for the printing aspect, I was only going to have one printed just in case, if they ask. But will hold back on it if you think it’s not really necessary anymore, since I can show my work during an interview on projector or computer screen.

hard to say if it will be under 5 mb since i don’t know how many pictures you are using, it doesn’t matter how many pages you have.
I suggest you put your best works with design process into the PDF and a link to some online portfolio site such as Coroflot.
When I applied for jobs i kept everything under 2mb and most of the time sent out a very clear and compact mini portfolio.
In the email I would mention I have more work to show if they have any interest and 95% of the time I got an interview.
On the first page I had my resume which was in 3 columns Working Experience, Education, Skills ( referring to software ).
It was easy to read and remember.
I think the print out is good, it’s something you can leave there after an interview but in the last years I was always asked to leave a digital file.

Good Luck

Hey, that’s right! I had forgotten that most likely, I would be emailing only a “teaser”, which won’t be a large file to begin with. If they ask for more work, they can ask me to email them my full portfolio, but usually, as you said, they might ask me to come in for an interview and at that point, it won’t matter how large my file is (or resolution, for that matter) if I leave them a digital file. I should just then make it 300 DPI, in case I did want to print it in the future (or in case they’d want to print one).

Thanks again!

i always went to the interview with the following 1. Digital Presentation on my notebook 2. Presentation on my USB Stick ( Back-Up and easy to pass on ) 3. Another Back-Up somewhere online 4. Printed version if required. I remember this guy went for an interview once, left his notebook in the car ( in the meantime he went to get a coffee) got back and everything was stolen. If had only emailed himself his own presentation he would have been fine or a print. You never know whats going to happen. Last week someone applied at my office with nothing, just a word document. Have everything ready and don’t be afraid to point out strengths and weakness. I always pointed out that I’m good with software but not the best at sketching but nevertheless showed them.

Those are great tips! Best to be prepared for the unexpected, I always say. Thanks again.

yo1976, do you mind if I ask something else?

I have a lot of hi-rez photos of my projects and I want to keep the originals, but if I want to “save as” at a low rez image at 72 dpi as well as have ones at 300 dpi, which file format is the best? Jpeg, TIFF or PS for best quality?

Thanks! You have been extremely helpful thus far.

i do everything at minimum 1600 x 1200, then it fits perfectly on an ipad / powerpoint! that ratio also works decent to print off at 8.5x11 and has enough resolution to look great too… 2000 x 1500 even better

I save everything to JPEG ( Sometimes PNG for transpaprent background) don’t ask me why it’s been like that for ages. TIFF is probably better. You can save your work pics twice, one high res and one low res. lIke I said before you can link your PSD file to the InDesign document no need to save as… jpeg and then import again.

Couple things…

I’d let InDesign do all this work for you. Like yo1976 said, you can import all your original files into InDesign and when you export to a PDF, InDesign will convert your images based on your export settings. Obviously, if you choose PRINT it will do everything at max resolution. For web, or for emailing out PDF I always pick “Smallest file size”. The I go into the compression settings and change the image quality to medium or high. I export, check size and more importantly check the quality of the export.

We’ve always had to have our PDF portfolios under 5mb and I’ve never had a problem doing so with lots of images and up to around 40 pages. Obviously it depends on content, but overall it should be fairly easy with some export tweaking.

Consider designing your portfolio to be easily read in print or on screen. I think keeping within the US letter size is generally a good idea. Mine is 11x6 or something along those lines just because I like the ratio better and the layout works better for me.

And a friendly reminder that if you want some more guidelines about portfolios (including answers to questions like these and export settings) feel free to download this book my class and myself put together.

That’s a great handbook and the InDesign section should help beginners a bit

Hello Gentlemen.

Thanks again for replies. I do LOVE that Portfolio Handbook so. I went back to the InDesign section and even though it is brief, there is great reference tips in there.

I was wondering though, is there anything inherently bad about having my portfolio 11x17? I find I can fit the most info. That is the standard they taught us in Professional Practice class at university. As long as it is legible, is that what matters (larger text, images, etc)?


Unless you are talking about print, there’s no real reason to have it that big in a digital file. It will just big a bigger file size to manage. In print it might be helpful, but I find that size to be really large to carry in a backpack or just in hand. My first portfolio (2nd year) was that size, since then I’ve kept it smaller just to make it more manageable. It’s a preference, but yes as long as it is legible, that’s the most important part outside of the content within it.

Hi Jurrasix,

How about 11x17 but saddlestitched into 81/2 by 11 size when folded? :slight_smile:

thanks for the input. Makes sense to carry something smaller, if printed.

I switched about a year ago to the 11x17 format for my printed portfolio and I love it.
Most interviews and presentation meetings I have had were not with one person but mostly several directors, partners and designers.

Being able to present so that everybody around the table can see has been very beneficial. A lot of my projects fit on two 11x17 print outs and I don’t have to flip the pages mid project which can interrupt the flow. Also being able to go back and forth during the presentation without flipping the page is a huge bonus.
I have noticed that the story line of how a project came to be becomes more clear when you can see it all in one spread and you can literally point towards the progression in the project.

yeah, well… you got to carry a large portfolio but for me that is a small price to pay for good flow and to make it easy to follow for the interviewer.


I can’t believe 2 months have gone by since I first posted my original question, but I finally finished my portfolio!

Now, its 55 pages long and its 45mb (indesign)! I have relevant content in there, so I can’t eliminate any pages if I wanted to. I am showing lots of process and this portfolio has 3 full length projects.

My question is; even with all the “smallest file size” settings in InDesign (pdf export), the smallest I can shrink it is to 10mb! :frowning:

You guys have been helpful thus far, so any suggestions? Thanks!

PS - my original images (and I have a lot; about 200) I have linked in my Indesign document are almost all 300 DPI. So maybe I should create a separate Indesign document (save as:) and then go through my document and create a lower resolution copy? I would probably have to painstakingly reduced each and every jpeg down in resolution down to 72, right? Unless there is a better way? Having the images at a lower resolution would guarantee a smaller PDF export, right?

As mentioned before in this thread, InDesign normally does this for you when you export to a pdf. What Dpi to reduce the images to is in the pdf export settings, have a browse around.


Thanks for the reply but I have already tried that. I tweaked the settings in Indesign “export to PDF” and lowered the dpi to 72 and my document was still only able to compress to 10mb, despite all the tweaking.

Congrats of finishing your portfolio.
That is good progress.

You seem quite sure about the page count in your portfolio and of course without having seen it, I am not in a postion to pass judgment.
But in general, I would say that 55 pages for 3 projects sounds a lot. Assuming that they are all similar length, it would be around 18 pages per project.

One thing you might want to consider is to embark on another round of condensing your work. Maybe not even leaving out material, just finding better layout options.
I know it is hard, been there myself. However, try to put yourself in the shoes of whoever is looking at your portfolio.
You state that you can’t eliminate anything. So one would have to read through 18 pages to understand the project?
Out of my own experience, I’d say that the attention span of a hiring design director is very, very short and rapidly decreasing with every click they have to make.

What I am trying to allude to is that maybe for a portfolio to be sent out, it is more important that it is compact and easy to grasps than it having all your user research and sketching in, though I am sure it is relevant to your project.
This is, in my opinion, much better saved for a personal presentation, where it is much easier to follow a complex project when you are presenting it, than if somebody has to dig through it themselves.

Appearances matter and having a good image quality in the portfolio you send out is important, otherwise you might have all the info, but are lacking the appeal for the potential employer to to even get into it.

My advice would be, tighten it up. Make it look crisp. Why not mention in the initial email that you have a lot more material to back up your design. If they are left wanting more, great. You can swoop in and save the day.
If they don’t, chances are that the extra material in the portfolio would not have made a big difference.