How Is Resolution Measured?

By Keith Evans

Resolution is Measured in Pixels

The resolution of a monitor is measured in picture elements, or "pixels" for short. Pixels are tiny dots that display on a computer monitor in one of millions of colors, shades and hues. To the viewer, the many pixels in a computer monitor combine to form a viewable picture.

Vertical Measurements

The first consideration in measuring a monitor's resolution is the number of lines displayed on the monitor from top to bottom. While a traditional television display may consist of about 480 lines, higher resolution computer monitors squeeze at least 1080 lines onto the display.

Horizontal Measurements

Each of the many lines measured in Section Two above is comprised of hundreds or thousands of tiny dots (pixels). Generally, the number of pixels contained in a line is proportional to the number of lines in the monitor's display; more lines means more dots in each line.

Resolution is Measured in Horizontal x Vertical Pixels

When a monitor's resolution is described, the description generally consists of the number of dots (pixels) contained in each line followed by the number of lines on the monitor. For example, a 1600 x 1200 display would contain 1600 pixels per line and display 1200 lines. An older monitor that displays resolutions of 640 x 480 would display 480 lines containing 640 pixels each. By this measurement, the number of dots per line can be multiplied by the number of lines to identify the total number of pixels displayed by the monitor. Using the examples above, a 1600 x1 200 monitor would display 1,920,000 individual pixels. An older monitor with a resolution of 640 x 480 would display 307,200 individual pixels. Because the individual pixels combine to display a complete picture, a higher number of pixels generally means a clearer picture.