I'm trying to save clip art in .png format so I can preserve the transparent background (I realize .png is usually used for web graphics.)
My problem is that my images are absolutely huge. When I save a 4 inch graphic (canvas trimmed) as a png-24 and then attempt to place the file it is suddenly 18" tall. The quality of the image in fantastic, I just want to save it to a smaller size.
I've looked all over the web and tried different settings in Photoshop, but can't seem to solve this problem. What am I doing wrong?
If you are indeed working on a print project PNG is an incorrect format to use. Many Raster image Processors (RIPS) are not designed to handle PNG images. Appropriate formats are EPS, TIF, PSD, and sometimes JPG. But these should be in CMYK format, PNG does not support CMYK color.
Image resolution (ppi) needs to be a minimum of 240 to produce a good quality image on press. PNG images, since they are for the web, do not support PPI readings. (This is why you're seeing a large image as well) This, again, is why the other formats are used.
If you need transparency, you should use either a mask or clipping path to indicate transparency in one of the correct image formats - EPS, TIFF, PSD.
Explaining what software you are using beyond Photoshop would be helpful in providing answers.
In all cases of professional print production, PNG is an incorrect format to use for any image.