Why Does the Color on my Screen Look Different Than the Printed Piece I Got?

A Father Guido Sarducci from Baltimore, Maryland, writes in and asks:

Q: Why does the brochure color on my screen look different than the piece that I ended up with?

A: This is an excellent question! I am not a techie, but I think I can explain in layman’s terms. There are hundreds of different computer monitors: brands, sizes and qualities, all of which affect how color is represented. To make matters more complex, the file that you view on your monitor has many variables which also impact how you see the color on your screen. A color file can be created many ways, with spot colors, CMYK, RGB or others. If you were to print out a color file on your own desktop printer, chances are it will even look different from the outputs on a printer’s equipment. There are a gajillion ways that color can be altered in appearance on a printed and viewed piece, all from the same file!

Again, without getting too technical regarding standardization of color, certification of color quality, etc., I can promise one sure way to get the exact color you want for your brochure…SEE A HARD COPY PROOF! If you request a physical proof from your printer, she should show you exactly what your piece will look like before printing your requested quantity.

When the color varies between the proof and what you see on your monitor, you can decide the following:

1. Which color do you prefer? If you like the printer’s color better, you are golden! Go ahead and approve your proof.

2. If you like the color on your monitor better, you can ask the printer to try to adjust the color to be closer to what you are looking for. This may cost more, and also may delay the deadline for your job, but if it’s very important to you, be prepared to fully describe the changes you want to make (for example, the proof is too yellow, or maybe add some blue).

3. If it doesn’t matter a whole heck of a lot, then approve away!

If you are someone to whom color is important (and it’s YOUR printed piece, so you get to decide), then you should always pick a printer who offers hard copy proofs. This is a huge benefit in dealing with your local printer rather than an online printer. Here at Curry Printing in Baltimore, time-permitting, we always offer our clients the chance to see a hard copy proof before printing their jobs. And can I get a hallelujah?!

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color on screen