Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Photography Guidelines

Be sure to follow guidelines and best practices for photography.

Print Resolution

For all printed materials, images should have an actual resolution of 300 PPI, and an effective resolution of at least 300 PPI, at a maximum of 100% scale. These values can be checked in the Link Info menu of the Links panel in Adobe InDesign.

Web Best Practices

Appropriate Size

The largest layout breakpoint is 1440px wide (desktop). For viewport-width images, ensure that the image is at least 1440px wide (preferably larger) to maintain crispness and readability. Higher-res images are encouraged for all image sizes, as Retina or other high-pixel density displays are becoming more ubiquitous.

When photographing for web, make sure to shoot your subject horizontally to ensure it will fit the new web sizes

Focal Point

Images work best if there is a main point of focus. With responsive layouts, image containers can vary in size from device to device, and having a focal point ensures that the image subject is conveyed correctly at all sizes.

Type Over Photos

Much of the design features viewport-width images with headlines overlaid. Even with a semi-transparent black overlay, photos that are too busy render the text unreadable. For these large feature images, avoid photos with too much contrast or too many details. 

Common Treatments

In some instances, when the University does not have control over the source images, it will be necessary to treat a collection of images in a common way to make sure they fit together as a family. In these instances, images should be treated in black and white, and should be adjusted individually to match contrast and value as closely as possible.


MDAM is the University's digital assets library, where you can download assets and upload your own photos. For questions, contact Dana Langtiw at  


When photographing, take both vertical and horizontal images of the subject to allow for more usage options.

Photo and Multimedia Release Forms

The following forms have been approved by the  University’s Office of General Counsel.

Back to top