How to get the best from your colour printers

The difference between RGB & CMYK mode

Have you ever wondered why a colour document that you have created doesn’t look quite the same once it has been printed?

The information below should help you achieve better results and more accurate colours when printing.


The 3 primary colours of light, digital cameras, monitors, scanners and other electronic image devices display or capture images using RGB colour combinations. When you save a colour image or photograph it will usually default to saving in RGB mode. It the image is going to remain in digital form (website, mobile & TV etc) then the image will not need any further changes.

Remember – RGB is fine for ONLINE



Q: Why is BLACK represented by a letter K?

A: So as not to be confused with (B) BLUE

The printing of full colour images uses the 4 colour process with CMYK set of colours (Not RGB) The ink or toners used in printers are translucent and can by combined (over printed) to produce an almost endless range of colours.

Remember – CMYK in the PRINT TRAY


When you are designing an image that will end up being printed it must be converted from RGB to CMYK mode before printing. Unfortunately not all RGB spectrum colours can be replicated exactly in CMYK but most programs will get as close as possible to the original colour, however the majority of colours convert very accurately. Please note it is advisable to convert the image before sending to printer, as image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements has better conversion results that the actual printer.

We must remember that most digital images have the added bonus of being back lit and this helps RGB look vivid and brighter than the printed counterpart.


If you convert your image file from RGB to CMYK prior to being printed, you will have much better control of the actual appearance of the final printed version.

Please bear in mind, and this is where it can get a little confusing, when converting the file you will be looking at the converted results before printing on a RGB monitor and what you see on the RGB monitor will not represent 100% accuracy but it will give you a very good idea of what the printed version will look like.

For designs created from scratch, it may be recommended that you work in CMYK from the beginning.
Remember to ask your designer if the print ready files they send to you are CMYK converted.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Euroffice Customer at 12:58 pm

    I have spent endless hours looking for a printer that would accurately print what is on the screen. I’m still searching…

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