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International Color Standards, Part 1: Setting the Stage for Increased Profits

(October 2007) posted on Wed Oct 03, 2007

International color-reproduction standards allow printers to compete globally, increase productivity, and make more money. This article digs into the foundations of standards and highlights the value of conforming to them.

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By Mike Ruff

What do you think of when you hear the term international standard? Some may remember the first time a client required conformance to the benchmarks in a standard. Others may be reminded of the time when they thought that compliance with international standards would improve the quality of their work. Perhaps the potential for increased profits comes to mind. These are certainly valid reasons for embarking on the time-consuming process of calibrating equipment and processes to meet the goals outlined in international standards. Why, then, do so many printers who attempt to conform to standards for color reproduction seem unable to find the financial worth in their efforts?

A lot of the frustration comes from a lack of understanding. Getting to know the terminology associated with international color standards and familiarizing yourself with the purposes of the standards will help you realize the value of complying the with appropriate standards. This article presents some basic information about standards and specifications that address color in graphic-arts production. This information will hopefully open your mind to the incredible profit potential that conformance to international standards can drive. Let’s start with the terminology. Then we’ll move on to the standards’ original purposes and a discussion about the inherent flaw in some of the outdated thinking in some standards and specifications. Finally, we’ll look at how good decisions about this information can drive your profitability forward.


Understanding the terminology

Developing a standards vocabulary allows us to unlock some of the more difficult concepts we’ll encounter. The following are some terms used by standards and specifications organizations:

Standards: Standards are inflexible values that control a result.

Specifications: Specifications are stated values that point to standards.

Appearance: This is a term that refers to an expected color result.

Dot gain (TVI): Dot gain means an increase from a specified dot percentage. TVI means tonal value increase. It is used in standard language to mean dot gain.

Ink color (density and hue): Density is the measurement of how much light a color absorbs associated with a darker color. Hue indicates what the visual color is, such as red, green, or blue. It can be different densities of the same color, also known as chroma or saturation or value.


Original purpose of international standards


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