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Comparing Your Color Options for Your Printing Material

If your project includes more than one color, you wonít get too far into the process before you start hearing about CMYK and spot colors. Choosing the option thatís best for you depends on your needs and budget. First, letís explain what these terms mean.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and refers to the four-color process. Placing tiny pixels of these colors together in different combinations creates a huge variety of colors. If you are creating a full-color document, you will most likely want to use the CMYK format.

When a printer or designer talks about using a spot color, they are referring to a color that was chosen from a chart of premixed colors. Pantone and Trumatch are examples of spot color charts. Spot colors are most often used to match a color on an existing document or object. For example, if want to print the logo from a document or box, you can compare that color to a list of spot colors until you find a match. Keep in mind that the colors you see on your computer screen will look a little different when they are printed.

You should talk to your printer and/or designer about what color process you want to use. Some printers might not have the equipment necessary to accommodate a project that includes both CMYK and spot colors. Also, using spot colors increase the cost of your project and take more time to implement. In many cases, the CMYK process can produce an acceptable match.

Keep in mind that this conversion can go both ways. If you have a specific color you want to match and you want to limit your color palette to the four process colors to control costs, you may find that the four-color equivalent noted in your swatch book actually does come very close to the spot color you have chosen. If this is the case, you may be able to keep your job on a four-color press, which would cost less per hour than the six-color press you would need to print an additional spot color.

Regardless of which color method you decide on, make sure to ask your printer for a proof so you can see how the different colors will look on paper before moving forward.

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