The Digital vs. Print Color Dilemma

One of the most frequently asked questions we get are about the colors and formats of files. Specifically, the file type easiest to work with and what color profile the file should contain. Our recommendation is: High Resolution PDF with 1/8th inch bleed on each side in CMYK format. However,  even when all the correct steps are taken, there is a chance that the colors on the screen will not match the ones being printed. This is because of the way that colors are created on a screen and on print. It is also why at Kendall Press, we always print out samples for our customers before printing out large batches of product. In this article, we will talk about how to decrease the variation between digital and print as much as possible, and the reasons behind the variations. Why do files look different on screen from when they are printed?


Let’s start with some basics. Many people know about the two major color formats: CMYK and RGB. RGB simply stands for Red, Green and Blue, while CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The two methods however, differ in more than just which colors are used as the base, but also how they are used to create new colors. Specifically, CMYK is additive; it creates different colors by adding different CMYK values. The RGB color wheel is subtractive; it uses light and removes RGB values to create different colors. If you look at the pictures sampled below, it should be easier to understand. RGB is used in screens to produce colors. This color creator is from Microsoft Word. When creating the color white, notice how RGB all have full output (255).

RGB white

When producing the color black, the screen simply produces 0 colors.RGB black

Comparing that to CMYK; white is the base value with 0,0,0,0, and  CMYK values are added to create different colors. Interestingly, in CMYK, there are multiple black colors. One, obviously being just 0,0,0,100. Another, is the black that is created from simply converting RGB black into CMYK (this ends up being 75,68,67,90 in CMYK). There is also what is called a rich black in CMYK, which is just 100,100,100,100.

What Does this Mean to Me?

This means that even when switching color formats on your screen, the screen itself can only do its best to imitate what the colors would look like on paper. This has a lot to do with the fact that screens have a back light, while printed material reflects light. There is also the consideration that certain screens have different resolutions and quality which can further impact the difference between what is seen digitally vs. what is printed. A good general rule of thumb to limit this differentiation is to keep your screen brightness at 50%. Avoiding neon, or extremely radiant colors can also help as they generally don’t translate well on paper. However, it is important to note that most of the time, for everyday, personal printing needs, these color changes are unnoticeable. Kendall Press, being a printing company that deals only with excellence, we have to make sure that everything is as close to perfect as possible. This is one of the reasons why we print samples before printing large quantities of product.

The Adobe Suite Color Dilemma

It’s been reported that when opening files that contain Pantone colors, using Adobe, the color values shown can sometimes vary between different Adobe programs. This is because the formula that Adobe Illustrator/InDesign/Photoshop uses, can convert Pantone colors into different CMYK values.

Pantone Colors

The problems comes when Adobe Illustrator, In Design, and Photoshop convert Pantone colors into different CMYK values through Adobe’s own formulas. However, Pantone is the international color standard. this means that all the standard Pantone colors should have the same values throughout the Adobe Creative Suite program. Because we are not just a printing company but also do design work, among other services, we realized that the colors sometimes come out differently. So we reached out to Pantone, purchased and installed the Pantone Color Manager to standardize colors in our software, thus giving us an edge in making sure that the colors we see on our screens, match as much as possible to the ones that will be printed. Of course there also metallic colors that are printed through a printing press. By nature, these colors are near impossible to represent digitally because of how they reflect light.

Hopefully this information is informative for you as a lot of it is unknown. The knowledge of the Adobe Suite incorrectly translating Pantone colors is one that is uncommon even within the printing industry! As Always, feel free to provide any questions or feedback below.

Like what you read? Click here to subscribe!
Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

5 HUBweek Events You Can’t Miss

Boston has always been known as a center of innovation. The greater Boston Area alone is home to 6 Universities listed in the Top 50 National Universities Ranking in 2016. When the 2 most prestigious of those Universities, Harvard and MIT, collaborate to form HUBweek, the slogan “A week-long exploration of innovations & creativity” should come as no surprise.HUBweek

The week-long event exceeded expectations and drew in 46,000 attendants in 2015, that was its first year! The event, hosted by MIT, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital and The Boston Globe has a lot going on between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1 2016. While HUBweek is open to all interested parties, some of the events are better suited for people of certain industries or area of expertise. This however, does not mean there are not events that everyone can go to. In fact they encourage people from all different backgrounds to explore their events. In this article. we will highlight only 5, of the many thought provoking events. We picked the events not just by importance, but with the belief that they will be especially beneficial to people from all backgrounds.

1. Faneuil Forum

– Sept.26 6:00 – 8:00pm – Free

Whether you like politics or not, the fact is that politics effects everyone. This is especially true if you are a business, even if it will effect some more than others. Taking place in the historic Faneuil Hall, this event is a discussion about the legitimacy of proposed policies and issues that surely effect us all. This HUBweek event that links politics with technology is surely vital for everyone.

2. Expanding Opportunity in the Digital Age

– Sept.27 10:00am – Noon – $25

Hopefully the title makes it pretty clear why it’s applicable to everyone since we’re all living in the digital/information age. This event goes beyond explaining how companies and businesses can and have used the rapid technological advancements. Hear a variety of personal stories from workers to learn about how technological growth can benefit you.

 3. Crowds & Climate Conference

– Sept. 28-29 8:30 – 12:30pm –  $50

Climate Change is one of the biggest topics of the 21st century. There are countless numbers or jobs and even companies that were created solely because of climate change and the research that has been done for it. MIT’s Climate CoLab alone has 60,000 people all over the world working together online to help address climate change. The climax of this Crowds & Climate Conference is the fact that the 2016 Climate CoLab contest winners will be talking about unique solutions to battle climate change from 20 different countries.

4. Welcome to boston, the IoT Hub of the Future

– Sept. 29 4:00-7:00pm – Free

IoT stands for Internet of Things. Explained simply, Internet of Things refers to objects that are not only connected to the internet, but can communicate with each other and various other electronic objects. The opening paragraph should make it clear why Boston can be considered a “Hub of the Future”. Make no mistake, this event is easier to benefit from if you are a techy, however if you value keeping up with technological trends; this event is essential. The entire theme of this week is extremely entrepreneurial and innovative. If these are categories you think you or your company belong to, then you might be able to use the IoT to your success.

5. Demo Day

– Sept. 30 11:00 – 6:00pm – Free

From all of HUBweek’s events, this has to be one of the funnest and (obviously) most interactive events. You might think that this event will be dominated by tech companies, which let’s be honest, demo shows usually are. However, there will be a large variety of companies that show up to showcase their unique approaches and innovations in their own industry. This is definitely an event that everyone can have fun at and learn a lot from if they are willing to engage with the showcasing companies.

But Kendall Press, You’re a Printing Company, Why Are You Writing About This?

Although on the surface we are a printing company, we are far from just a printing facility. We are also designers, consultants and partners. We will be attending this event ourselves for multiple reasons.

  • By keeping up with innovation of other industries, we are flexible to our partner’s changing needs by preemptively adapting the products and services we offer.
  • As consultants and designers, we can further improve our partner’s visibility when assisting with their trade shows/conventions, by evaluating the presence of companies at HUBweek and keeping up with trends.
  • As a company based in Kendall Square and serving the Greater Boston area, it is important to stay up to date with important events.

Hopefully this article will help you prepare your attendance for HUBweek. If you enjoyed this article feel free to subscribe!


Like what you read? Click here to subscribe!


Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

The Art of Business Cards

Business Card Example

In our previous article, we guided you through the design of Booklets, Brochures and Catalogs. Those are more for when you have people's attention and generally serve a more in depth purpose. In this article, we are going to be talking about Business … [Continue reading]

Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs, A Guide for your Business


Whether you are promoting your business, service, product or just an idea, printed material can be an extremely effective tool for you and your business. Wherever you plan on being, research has shown that printed material is more effective than … [Continue reading]

4 Tips to Rock your Next Trade Show

Trade show graphics

If you’ve ever worked a boring booth at a Trade Show, you’ve most likely been the victim of the “avoiders.” Those passers-by who liken you to Medusa and refuse to look your way for fear of being turned to stone. You notice … [Continue reading]

4 Easy Steps to Increase Your Productivity

Increase Productivity

“The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.” – Timothy Ferriss What better time to think about time management and increasing your productivity than on the eve of Day … [Continue reading]

Kendall Press prints for many local communities, including Belmont, MA.

Belmont Library promotes their music series.

Friends of Belmont Public Library promote their music series. Kendall Press has been serving local businesses since 1986, including Belmont, MA.  We recently completed a job for the Friends of the Belmont Public Library for their upcoming Celo … [Continue reading]

Window Clings (aka Static Clings)

Window cling

Kendall Press has been receiving numerous requests recently to print window clings so I thought that would be a good subject to write about. I would like to use this blog to go over a few important details about window clings and how you can use them … [Continue reading]

Spread Some Kindness (or chocolates) in the Workplace!

Kindness in the Workplace

Hello February - it's that time of year when, everywhere you look, there are red hearts popping up, reminding you that love is in the air. You show your family and loved ones that you care, why not let Valentine’s Day be a time when you take the time … [Continue reading]

4 Ways to Beat the Workplace Blahs

Don't let the Workplace Blahs Get you down!

The excitement of the Holidays is long over and the weather is looking more gloomy than usual, it is no wonder that a feeling of negativity can creep into the workplace in January and February. The commutes in the icy weather can take longer and just … [Continue reading]