Is there a color swatch in Illustrator that I can use that will match up to InDesign's default [Black] swatch so that preflight in InDesign will see them as a single ink instead of two separate inks?

I know that I could use a Pantone Black in both to solve this problem, but for reasons I'd rather not go into here, I'd really like to use the InDesign [Black] swatch if at all possible.


In print documents, the swatch [Black] in InDesign is just plain CMYK black: CMYK(0, 0, 0, 100), so you can just use that in Illustrator.

The special thing about [Black] is that InDesign offers the possiblity to turn on Preferences > Appearance of Black > Overprint [Black] Swatch at 100%. Useful for black text and black lines which (in most cases) should overprint. Illustrator doesn't have that setting because it doesn't have the [Black] swatch. You must manually make sure to overprint black when needed.

Under Preferences > Appearance of Black make sure to set both InDesign and Illustrator to always Display All Blacks Accurately and Output All Blacks Accurately so you have full control over what is going on.

You can use the Separations Preview panel to check which inks your current document is using.

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  • Should bold that last paragraph.:) Silly default settings from Adobe are incorrect for anyone doing print work. – Scott Jan 31 at 23:44
  • Appreciate the effort and sorry it took so long for me to get back to you about this, but I wanted to make absolutely sure I wasn't missing something. What you're saying here has always been my understanding as well, but preflight in the most current InDesign reports them as two different inks. I tested by making an InDesign document with a [Black] filled shape, and then placing an Illustrator file consisting of a single rectangle filled with with CMYK(0, 0, 0, 100). I also tried every permutation of those appearance settings to see if that made a difference. It did not. – grovberg Apr 22 at 19:50
  • @grovberg, I've never seen that. I don't use preflight in InDesign often. Just looked into it now and placed an .ai file like you described. What do you mean that "InDesign reports them as two different inks"? Can you show a screenshot? How does it look in Separations Preview? And after export in Output Preview in Acrobat? CMYK(0, 0, 0, 100) and [Black] should "both" appear as Black or Process Black. – Wolff Apr 22 at 20:10
  • I didn't mention this in the original post, but this is for a class I teach and I'm trying to find a replicable way for my students to verify their inks (i.e. "If you do X, you did it right."). The Separations Preview does work as expected and frankly might reinforce the concepts better anyway. I guess I'll have to chalk preflight up to a bug. Thanks for your input. – grovberg Apr 26 at 21:44
  • @grovberg, I've added something about Separations Preview to the answer. Please consider accepting it if you think it answers your question. (I'm still curious about that report showing InDesign and Illustrator black as two separate inks.) – Wolff Apr 27 at 22:37

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