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Search the archives, this is an oft-discussed topic. Some thoughts. Remember
what your source is: 96dpi resolution, x-pixels wide by y-pixels high, and
color depth set by your video card.
With that in mind, you can capture as-is by using Print Screen.
However, I recommend you consider this:
1) Size the horizontal and vertical pixel dimensions of what you are
capturing before you capture it.
2) If what you are capturing is a window that needs to be 600-pixels wide by
400-pixels high to show all the controls, then that is going to translate,
at 96 dpi, to 6-inches wide by 4-inches high. That's a pretty large image,
in print, in PDF, and in any online help format. If you write for a software
manufacturer, see if you can get programming to set max dimensions for their
3) After you make the capture, you can increase the resolution of the image
to decrease its physical dimensions.
4) You might want to increase the resolution, anyway, to fit your output
device. 96dpi is perfect for screen display but less than ideal for output
5) Screen grabs are bitmaps. Changing the size of bitmaps will result in
aliasing and jaggy effects. Futhermore, if the resolution of your image does
not divide evenly into your intended output, then expect some aliasing. For
example, an image at 150dpi might be perfect for printing off a 600dpi laser
printer or Xerox Docutech, but such an image would not display crisply on a
6) Consider a screen-capture tool. Any tool. For example, I use SnagIT.
SnagIT let's me capture windows or parts of windows with one key
combination. At the time of capture, the image can be resampled to a
resolution I specify and the color depth can also be changed. I change my
captures to 120dpi and 8-bit optimized color form 96dpi and 24-bit color.
Also, at the time of capture, you have the option of auto-naming the capture
and outputting it to one or more destination: file (in a choice of formats,
BMP, GIF, etc.), e-mail, clipboard, printer, etc.
However, the key to a successful capture really is about considering the
destination: print, screen, both, what kind of print, and so on. Again,
check the archives.
sean -at- quodata -dot- com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Carolynne Robertson [SMTP:CRobertson -at- FDMSOFT -dot- COM]
> Sent: Monday, April 23, 2001 6:00 PM
> To: TECHWR-L
> Subject: Help on Screendumps
> Hello fellow Tech Writers:
> Does anyone have any tips to share on taking professional looking
> screenshots? I need to know how to minimize the file size of screenshots
> and resize screenshots without losing resolution.
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