print beautiful

Printed CMYK color can look very
different than the RGB color on
your monitor. Use these tips and
techniques to ensure your printed
colors are as close as they can be
to what you expect.

Setting Correct Color Modes

Always convert your images to CMYK color mode before printing. CMYK
printing cannot always match colors in RGB. After conversion, an image
color may shift. Refer to the Setting Brightness & Contrast or Getting the
Best Color
sections for post-conversion tips.



What is the difference between RGB and CMYK color?

RGB is additive color constructed from Red, Green and Blue lightwaves. CMYK is subtractive color made up of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK inks.





How do I make sure my images are in CMYK color mode?

We recommend the Adobe Photoshop Mode control in the Image menu.


Use the Image menu to adjust color mode

I don't have Adobe Photoshop?

Design Support can convert your image color mode for preview before printing.

Calibrating Monitor Color

We've made the complicated process of predicting final printed color easy. Simply order a Sample Kit and download the accompanying Color Calibration Tool. Compare the two to see how your color may shift in the final print.

How come it looks different on different monitors?

Every monitor renders color slightly differently depending on its calibration.

How do I calibrate my monitor?

For Mac users, use the Color Calibration tool in the Displays System Preferences category. For PC users, refer to your graphics card manual for specific calibration instructions.

Choosing the Right Black Settings

The four-color printing process offers a variety of choices for printing black, which should be chosen with your file type in mind.*

What is the difference between Flat and Rich Black?

Flat Black uses black ink only. Rich Black uses cyan, yellow and magenta inks in addition to black ink. Rich Black prints more vibrantly, but Flat Black prints more precisely.


Flat Black (C=0 M=0 Y=0 K=100)


Rich Black (C=30 M=20 Y=20 K=100)

When should I use Flat Black?

Use Flat Black for typography and thin lines or rules to ensure crisp, precise edges.

When should I use Rich Black?

Use Rich Black for photography and larger vector shapes to ensure rich, vibrant color.

What is overprinting and
when should I use it?

Overprinting tells the printer
to print one ink on top of
another, rather than next
it. Select overprinting for
Flat Black type or rules to
eliminate white halo effects
due to small printer shifts.


Select overprinting for your blacks in the
attributes panel of Adobe InDesign or Illustrator


Small shifts can happen in printing,
leaving white halo effects around black
type or rules.


Overprinting your blacks ensures no
white halo effects around your type or

Converting Spot Color to CMYK Color

Always convert spot color logos, type or images to CMYK color before
submitting your file as we print with four-color process inks.

What is the difference between spot color and CMYK color printing?

Spot color is printed using matched inks to print specific colors, whereas CMYK color is printed using Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and blacK inks overlaid upon each other to create all colors in the spectrum. Because process inks aren't specifically matched, some colors may shift in appearance once you have converted them from spot color to CMYK.


Logo before process color conversion


Logo after process color conversion

How do I select the right process color?

Select the CMYK color mix specific to your spot color from the PANTONE® Color Bridge Guide to guarantee the most accurate process color. If you're having trouble converting your spot colors, please contact Design Support for assistance.


Pantone Color Bridge swatch books demonstrate the difference between spot and process color