Spot and Process Colour Printing Considerations

When you need more than one type of item printed, the issue of colour consistency is something that can come up. For example, in addition to inkjet labels you may need business cards or brochures. All of these different mediums will each display colour differently and absorb ink at a different rate. How, then, can you ensure that everything you need looks professional and put together?

Issues with Spot Colour

Spot colour is that which has been matched to a swatch of colour, much like would be provided by a paint store. Pantone colour is the industry standard for the lithographic printing process, which uses Pantone brand inks. This allows for exact colour matching.

Choosing a standard Pantone colour shouldn’t cause any printing issues on ink jet labels. However, should you require the same colours to be printed on a brochure or business cards, colour variation can be the result. This can be due both to the thickness of material being printed on as well as its colour.

Issues with CMYK, or Process Colour

Process colour combines cyan, magenta, yellow and black to achieve particular colours. Spot colours can be re-created with CYMK colours, although with caveats: some Pantone colours are more troublesome than others, and can end up looking like completely different shades once printed on inkjet labels or other items.

Questions to ask before Printing

Once you’re able to understand the two different printing types, you’ll need to think about a few things before sending your label printing project to a professional printer.

One Process or Two?

First, you’ll need to decide whether you wish your entire order to be printed using a single process, or whether one portion will need to be printed using the second process. For example, if you wish your labels to be printed with CYMK, but need your business cards to be printed in spot colour, you may wish to ask your printer to print the cards first, and then match their colours to those that will be printed on your labels. This will allow for better colour matching on your labels.

Is there room for Variation?

Are the colours you’re using absolutely critical? If you have a particular business colour that leaves no room for variation, this is something that you will need to communicate to your printing company. And to communicate that clearly, the best thing you can do is to simply print your desired colour directly from your inkjet or laser printer. Regardless of how the colour may look on your screen, it’s the accuracy of the colour on your printout which will matter most, and the one your printing company will be able to work with best.

Future Requirements

It’s also important to consider the future. Will you be needing other items printed later on? If so, it’s a good idea to keep a few of whatever items you are happy with. If you’re satisfied with the colour of your labels, or with the matching between these and your business cards, for example, then you’ll want to keep some of these to give to a future company. While you may think that foregoing these samples and just going with a Pantone reference when trying to communicate your colour preferences will help, it may only serve to confuse both you and the printer.

Another item to consider is when you or another person will be creating your artwork. Whichever the case, it’s critical that you contact your printer to ensure that they will able to work with what you’re creating. This will involve notifying them of any software you’re using to create your artwork. When working with someone else, you’ll need to tell them how your labels and other items will be printed so that this can guide their work. Your printer can also supply you with all of the advice you may need for a perfect print job.

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