What Does 4 Color, CMYK and Full Color Printing Mean?

Full color printing servicesThe short answer is they all mean the same thing. The term “CMYK” is the most technical term and is used mainly by professional printers and designers. It is the mixing of ink colors on a digital or offset press to get full color printing. The C = Cyan, M = Magenta, Y = Yellow, and K = Black ink. A percentage from 0% to 100% of each color is mixed to create a palette of various colors. The term “4 Color” is referring to the number of colors that create the more technical term CMYK. “Full Color” is the most widely used term by people who print items like brochures or newsletters.

Now an area that causes a lot of potential issues is when non-professional designers provide a printing company a full color printing project that was created with a RGB design program and/or RGB images from a digital camera. The R = Red, G = Green and B = Blue; this is the color sequence that is shown on most personal computer screens. The basic problem is some colors do not convert well from RGB to CMYK (especially blues and purples). In addition, programs like Microsoft Word & Excel generate text copy in full color instead of black ink only. The issue with full color text copy is you will normally get a shadowing of yellow and the text is not as “crisp” when printed by a printing company.

If quality is important, you may want to consider using a seasoned professional graphic designer to layout your artwork.

Written by Glenn Cummins

Great customer service, friendly, easy to work with. The quality of the work is excellent. I recommend EBA Printing all the time.

Moshe R., Mequon, WI

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