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International Color Standards, Part 2: Looking at Standards and their Meanings

(November 2007) posted on Mon Dec 03, 2007

Wading through all of the international standards for graphics printing can be a daunting task. Ruff's assessment of their purpose can help you better understand their value.

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By Mike Ruff

2. Preparatory stage The standards then enter the preparatory stage, where a working draft of is developed.

3. Committee stage When the working draft is completed, it enters the committee stage and is sent out for comments until a consensus is reached. The output of this stage is the Draft International Standard (DIS).

4. Inquiry stage The DIS then enters the inquiry stage, where it is circulated among all member bodies and then voted upon. If a DIS does not receive 75% of the vote, it returns to lower stages and work on it continues.

5. Approval stage If it passes the inquiry stage, it becomes a Final Draft International Standard and enters the approval stage. During this stage, it will again circulate through all member bodies for a final vote, and again it must pass this stage with 75% of the vote.

6. Publication stage If the standard passes the approval stage, it enters the publication stage and is sent to the ISO Central Secretariat for publication.

Certain technologies change rapidly. ISO has responded by instituting a Fast Track procedure that allows a standard that has been proven in the market to enter the approval process at the inquiry stage.

ISO standards for color printing also went through the stages described above. The standards I want to call your attention to in this article are ISO 2846 for four-color-process ink colors, and ISO

12647 for print production. The reason you need to be familiar with these ISO standards is because many of the other specifications do name, or are at least linked to parts of, these standards.

These ISO standards have tolerances. That means they specify a range of deviation from the standard that is acceptable. If you are aware of what this specification is and its tolerances, you can easily document that you either are or are not in compliance. You may say you don’t really care, but you should, because these standards play a role in how profitable you are.


ISO 2846

The ISO standard number for processcolor ink is ISO 2846 (Tables 1A and 1B).



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