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Color mode & color range

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Design print files in CMYK

Always design your print files in the CMYK color mode. We automatically convert print files submitted in RGB into CMYK. Please note that conversions of RGB to CMYK may lead to color shifts since not all RGB colors can be represented in the CMYK color range.

RGB vs. CMYK: differences in color representation


This photo in RGB mode has brilliant colours with a high saturation.

Colour representation on the screen: RGB (additive mixture of colour stimuli)

Color representation on the screen: RGB (additive mixture of color stimuli)


The same photo in CMYK seems less brilliant than in RGB mode.

Colour representation on the print product: CMYK (subtractive mixture of colour stimuli)

Color representation on the print product: CMYK (subtractive mixture of color stimuli)

Computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone screens work in the RGB color mode. What you see differs depending on settings (e.g. brightness, contrast, color temperature and calibration) and processing quality of the screen. In order to achieve color fidelity (like on print products), screens must be calibrated and profiled using a measuring device. Your program's output preview, also called soft proof, simulates the color result in printing.


The color representation in the production of your print product also depends on the print substrate or material selected because different paper types have different characteristics. Recycled paper tends to have a grey-yellowish coloring while offset or art print paper can be more whitish or blueish. For comparisons and to assess paper types, paper weights and finishes more easily, please order and use our paper sample book.


Color profiles and/or source profiles are necessary to interpret the colors of image data from different output devices (e.g. monitor or printer) as exactly as possible. Therefore, always use the color profile adjusted to the product and paper/print substrate in your print files. The respective information can be found under “Data info” on the product pages in our online shop.

Generally, the following ICC color profiles are used:
  • For coated paper: PSO Coated v3
  • For uncoated paper: PSO Uncoated v3 FOGRA52
  • For other materials: PSO Coated v3
    (e.g. banners)

You can download these color profiles for free from the website of the ECI (European Color Initiative).

Output requirement

PDF/X files contain a so-called output intent specifying for which output requirement the PDF has been processed.

Color representation with laserjet and inkjet printers:
Laserjet and inkjet printers do not output your print files in a way which is accurate in terms of color. There can be significant color deviations as compared to your print product.