Why did my paperback print in a different colour than what I saw on the computer screen? Colours are much more complicated than you may realize. How something looks on your computer screen may look completely different in printed format. There are many different reasons why.
RGB versus CMYK Colours
For starters, RGB (red, green, blue) colours are what you see on your computer screen. They are created using light. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) colours are created by mixing inks/toners together in varying percentages.
When you are creating an ebook only, it’s okay to use RGB colours in your design. But if you plan to also print a paperback or hardcover version of your book, you should design it using CMYK colours. Otherwise, your printer may not be able to match the colours you’ve chosen since printers have a smaller colour gamut available than computer screens do.
Coated Paper Versus Uncoated Paper
Yet another thing that can affect the way your colour will appear after it’s printed is paper stock. In fact, the same colour can look completed different when it is printed on coated paper versus uncoated paper. I show examples of this inside 3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors: Consider This Before Printing Any Books.
Digital Colour Versus Offset Colour
A digital printer is what every business has in its office. These printers use dry toner rather than liquid ink and can run smaller quantities at a cost-effective price. An offset printing press is “old-school printing” in that it uses liquid ink, is the most cost-effective option for higher print quantities, and generally offers better colour control than today’s digital printers do.
Another thing that can affect how your colour appears in print is the type of printer being used. Digital prints will usually appear more “shiny” and bright whereas offset prints will appear slightly duller. This is because toner is glossy whereas ink is not.
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