Process color, spot color, black ink – working with color in text.
Working with color in text
Let’s look at text in black ink, process color, and spot color ink. There are differences. Avoid costly printing mistakes and extra time revising your files. Often, a crucial mistake is made using black body text. It is either in black, a CMYK process color screen build, or a spot ink. It should never be in process.
BLACK INK FOR TEXT
“Black” in the InDesign Swatches palette is in use most often for the book’s body text.
See the “Black A – black ink” example in the top image on this post. Usually a novel or coffee table book is setup in 10-, 11- or 12-point type. The text type size is small compared to other print elements or design. Headlines and subheads are often larger than the text type size. The text is usually black.
We get into problems if text is not [black] as selected from InDesign Swatches. The other choice for text is a spot ink, but if printing a book with process color images, an additional spot ink adds to the printing cost. Never use process on small type.
One black text ink can come from a single ink tray, if printing on a 1-color press. Much of the time, books is printed on 6-color presses, using four trays of ink—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. CMYK is process color. In this example, the ink is [black] in the swatch palette or drawn from the black tray only in printing. Do not use “Registration” black or “Rich” black.
SCREEN BUILDS IN PROCESS COLOR
Do not use Process Color for text throughout the book.
See the “Process A – screenbuild” example in the top image on this post. A screen build is any color built from process color. A circle is imposed over the capital ‘A’. When printing with CMYK, each ink screen has a different angle. We print one screen on top of the other and together they form the rosette, as seen in the circle.
You can see a slight color glow around the letter. It is the edges of the rosette. The halo will not affect large headlines depending on size and a type style. Small text in any process color will not print well on press. Check for this on physical proofs.
If the type is set up in process color, change it to ‘Black’ in the Swatches palette. Double check the Paragraph Styles, and Character Styles.
SPOT INK. CHANGE CMYK TO PMS INK
If you use a Spot ink, it adds a fifth ink tray to the press, and it is an additional charge.
See the “Spot A – solid color” example in the top image on this post. Let’s say that you are designing away and would like to change from a CMYK ink to PMS color — Pantone Matching System — for certain text styles or smaller headlines, subheads, or captions.
That means that in a typical process color book, the cost to print increases because of additional inks. Be sure of what the printing quote says before adding a Pantone spot color. Text color, using PMS inks, can print in process color, or a spot ink.
If you do not have full color images, you could design a book in two spot inks, for example. You may be changing the text color from CMYK to PMS text. You may choose spot black for text, and one PMS spot for a headline or decoration.
An option for a two-color book is not to use black at all. We recommend a dark PMS for one spot ink, and a contrasting ink for other elements. How about deep purple for text and a dark gold for headlines? Maybe a deep brown for text with red headlines?
You are the designer and there are many options. Technically, avoid process CMYK process color text. Instead use [Black] ink and always verify the quote if inks change. This may change the printing quote.
Note: The physical version of this book is printing in process color. We did not add a fifth ink.
InDesign Swatches palette
The beauty of the Pantone Color Bridge fan deck is that the swatches are side by side comparisons of a spot PMS (Pantone Matching System) ink (pre-mixed ink) next to the process color screenbuild (CMYK from 4 ink trays on press.) The process color is as close as one can get to the spot color. Pantone Color Bridge Coated fan deck swatches are an asset for a book designer.
SET-UP FOR PANTONE INK
Go to Swatches. See the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner. Click on them and select New Color Swatch . . .
|Pantone + Color Bridge Coated
|7698 CP (replace with your choice)
Click Add. If making a change to an existing color, click OK instead.
Notice how different the spot and process versions are in these images. If planning branding or a logo that will be printed and also used online, select a PMS color where the spot and process versions match more closely. The RGB and HTML equivalents are also provided on the swatches.
The Pantone Color Bridge is great to own, and I am happy to advise our clients of any color differences if they contact me. If you are a graphic designer or book designer, you should buy the Pantone Color Bridge Coated. If you are a self-publisher, it is probably not necessary.
While we own the physical Pantone Library for print production, we use the Pantone Color Bridge Coated most often, as most of the books we print are on coated stock.