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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

Specifications for Web Offset Publications (SWOP) is probably the most accepted color specification in the world. The first version of SWOP was published in 1975. The 11th edition was published this year. Remember, SWOP is not a standard. It is a specification of a process that is also linked to the ISO standard. It points to the ink color of ISO, it specifies TVI, it certifies proofing systems, and you can purchase SWOP ICC color profiles. But again, what I want you to learn here about SWOP is that there are different specifications for different line counts and substrates that we don’t need—but the specifications are linked to ISO Standards (Table 3).



Fogra is not a standard for printing. Fogra (Forschungsgesellschaft Druck e.V.) offers specifications, among other services and products, to the printing industry. Fogra is a German-based organization, founded in 1951. Fogra states that its objective is to promote print engineering and its future-oriented technologies in the fields of research, development, and application, and to enable the printing industry to utilize the results of this activity. Fogra also targets ISO 12647 standards.

Fogra maintains its own institute, with about 50 staff members, including engineers, chemists, and physicists. Fogra has more than 600 members. About twothirds of them are graphic-art businesses operating in fields ranging from prepress to bookbinding, while the remaining third are suppliers. A third of the members are based outside of Germany.

The eight Fogra Technical Committees, responsible for various specialized topics, are a central part of the organization. In these committees, specialists from printing businesses and Fogra staff define and then study industry problems. The progress and results of their work are also discussed at the Committee meetings. Committees fulfill a creative and a monitoring function; at the same time, they characterize the work style of a collective research institute that meets the needs of the printing industry.

A very current print characterization, or what we call a profile, can be purchased from Fogra. It is called Fogra 39. Note that it references ISO standards in its description of instrumentation (ISO 13655) and print conditions (ISO 12647- 2:2004) used.




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