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I am working in an InDesign magazine where I need to have a fair amount of small text (10pt) in many different colors; thus impossible to use only one additional spot color.

My concern is that if I use CMYK values that are random numbers like 72,3% in any of CMYK value, halftoning will appear and make the small text not crisp.

Do I worry too much? I don't expect the result to be 100% same as printing black in 0/0/0/100 but something close to that.

If my concern is valid, are there any practical rules to follow?

  • This is just a tough assignment for multiple reasons: likely registration problems (very likely), diminished readability because of poor contrast, and halftoning, as you mentioned. If you can't use 100% ink and no more than two plates, I would be absolutely sure to get press checks before going ahead. – user8356 Apr 16 '18 at 15:15
  • My answer here is somewhat related. – Wolff Apr 16 '18 at 15:26
  • 10pt is not really small text. It’s perfectly normal for books to be set in 10pt text, for example, and if you’re having your document offset-printed, most colours will be perfectly legible. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 17 '18 at 7:09
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The first obvious options.

Cian 100% and Magenta 100%

From there you have different values that can potentially look your text screened and out of register.

First the screening. I would use either cyan or magenta at 100% and some other color with a smaller percentage. Oranges, greens, turquoise.

A 50% color is a checkerboard pattern, lower values dominate the white or the no-color, so probably try to stay above, let's say 60% so it is more color with white dots inside.

If it is yellow it does not really matter.

Here is an image which is not the exact same case as using a smaller than 100% ink. The problem here is a text converted to bitmap. but it is a similar issue.

You can see the proportion between the screening and the font size.

enter image description here

Try to use bold fonts, not light versions.


You can still registry issues.

In this case try to use just one ink, like cyan at 60%.

Avoid printing on large machines or large paper, where there can potentially be more deformation on the rubber (For example A0 or A1). Try to print on a smaller one like A2.

But this totally depends on the quality of the press, costs, number of copies, type of paper, etc.

Talk to the printer about the specific issue.

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