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Not all black is the same

In our blog, the print experts at labelprint24 give you tips and assistance on how to correctly lay out your print data; today: the black layout.

The problem: The data for the printed labels or sticky notes was created using a DTP program, such as the widely used Adobe InDesign, and sent to the online print shop. On the screen, the label still looked really good, the black font was crisp and the black areas also looked really bold and deep. But on the proof, the same area is gray and dirty, in some places a color cast is visible, the font or the barcode strokes look frayed and blurred.

If the labels, booklet labels or sticky notes were printed like this now, a complaint would already be pre-programmed. The DTP specialists at the packaging and label manufacturer labelprint24 are repeatedly confronted with this problem. But they know how a label design, with a black color component, must be optimally prepared for printing.


To understand how this problem arises, a little theory is necessary. One black color, compared to another, is not always the same as black. The real absorption properties of pigments for printing inks in the CMYK color system commonly used in Europe prevent a mixture with three basic colors from actually producing an intense black. The additional printing ink K-black (K as in key or key color) is necessary because printing the three color tones together produces a sufficient black in theory, but not in practice.


Rich black describes a special feature of CMYK printing. To achieve a rich black in offset printing, a proportion of 45-60% C (cyan) is generally added to the black proportion of 100% K (key), resulting in an ink coverage of 160 to 180%. In this way, a deep, strong, brilliant, opaque black with high color density is achieved. This black should only be used where register problems are not to be expected - it is not suitable for black for texts; it is all the more suitable for background funds.

Digital printing does not require a bold black. The black is printed as the last color and is absolutely opaque. Black texts and barcodes in particular should be printed in pure black, otherwise the high ink coverage will make the objects fatter and thus less legible.

It is of great importance to know that a color must not be composed of more than 280% of the sum of all color components. Too many colors means too much printing dye. 100% K component, i.e. the pure black color (C=0, M=0, Y=0, K=100), are just right for a text, line or barcode stroke. Thus, the writing or the bars of a barcode label are spared tiny traces of other colors.

Here you can find even more print data requirements explained

If you have any further questions about the correct structure of your printed labels or sticky notes, the printing experts at labelprint24 will be happy to help. A phone call is all it takes.

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