I am new in this printing industry and very confused. Ive been working on a brochure and whenever i saved a pdf preview for my client i will always choose “smallest size pdf” from ai and for the final output i will send them “high quality printing” version.

Problem is the client printed both of them and they liked the “smallest size pdf” color more, its more vibrant/closer to the color i had on screen. i know for “smallest size pdf” the color output is rgb while “high quality printing” is cmyk. My ai is in cmyk mode.

I am always told to save cmyk pdf for printing, but now the client likes the rgb version, do you think its safe to print hq rgb pdf?

The fact that the printer can print brighter color using rgb pdf means they can print it using cmyk? why does it differ using my cmyk pdf?

thank you hope its not too long. I really appreciate if you can help me.

  • 2
    Please explain more about "the client printed", "the printer" (a machine?), "is it safe to print...". What is the work-flow here? Who is printing what on what machine? When you say "brochure", there will be offset printing at the end or not? Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 15:24

3 Answers 3


It's possible, but not guaranteed, for your printer to match what your client printed. As you suggested, that the client printed out the RGB file on what is likely a CMYK printer, these colors are likely attainable on the printer's equipment. But the ability to generate these vibrant colors isn't the only thing to consider in the overall problem. Color output can be greatly affected by equipment conditions and paper type, so the color the client produced may only be due to their specific environment and, as a result, your print vendor may not be able to guarantee a perfect match.

Your best option here is to explain your situation to your contact at the print company and have them guide you on how to prepare your file so that they can more reliably match your client's expectations.

I absolutely do not recommend making a habit out of this.

This is the sort of situation where there's a lot of room for variability, which creates a lot of opportunities for a final product your client will be unhappy with. This is not a great position to be in for your client, nor is it a great position for your print vendor. It's in your best interest minimize these chances for something to go wrong.

I understand that file size can be an issue when trying to get files to a client, so the "smallest file size" option can be very attractive for getting client approvals. However, this PDF setting is absolutely not appropriate for color proofing in a print environment. Moving forward, you need to start sending your clients the same file that you would be sending to the printer. If these files are too large, you may want to investigate services like wetransfer or google drive. Because the client would be receiving the same document as the printer, they can be assured that the final print output will match the PDF you provided them.

If you would like to continue using the smallest file size option, you need to explain to your clients that the files you send them are not to be used for color approvals, and that you can't guarantee matches. To circumvent this issue, you could invest in a high quality proof printer and calibration devices and start producing physical proofs with guaranteed color for your clients to approve. These approved copies can then be provided to your print vendor to help them match what the client is expecting.


The reason to use CMYK is to avoid suprises. Be aware that the situation may as easily be the reverse, client is unhappy with the conversion. Its perfectly fine to prepare RGB documents if you are willing to live with the 4 available conversion intents and possibility of different color coming out from different profiled printers (with image and saturation intent especially).

Its only really the control of black and very large print runs for consumer packaging where knowing exactly what you get is a good thing. So if you dont want to work with blacks and dont do packaging... Then you can do whatever you want.


With regards for print out result..Since 1998 I've been in digital printing large format, and i'm always using RGB & JPG file only for faster reading transfer from PC to Printer..Then the result is better, using photographic paper, canvas or vinyl til @ present...It's useless when saving from small file size to big file size for printing, the result of print out almost the same, while bigger file size wasting time for reading sending to printer, especially when PC is very slow...

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