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I just finished laying out a book that’s to be printed as 1+1. For table headers and a few other things, I used a light grey.

Now, for some reason (not sure why), I just realised I’ve defined all these greys as CMYK 0/0/0/100 tinted down to 15% or 7% or whatever the needed lightness was, rather than just defining them as CMYK 0/0/0/15 (or whatever) to begin with, which is what I’d usually do.

But then I wondered – is there actually any difference in this case? It’s a monochrome black, so presumably the tint and the lower K value (side question: what do you call a non-tint-based lightening like that?) will end up giving the same result. Or will it?

Is there, in the case of single-channel colours, any actual difference between tinting a 100% colour and defining a colour as less than 100% in that channel? If output format makes a difference, please assume offset printing, but I’d be interested to know if there’s ever any difference.

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No, there is no difference between using a tint swatch and manually defining a swatch with lower values.

Even using opacity to lighten the color should yield the same result if the background is white.

You can easily check this by opening the Separations Preview panel, setting View to Separations and mouse over swatches defined in the different ways.

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    Thanks for confirming that. On screen, the opacity one only gives the same result with overprint preview/simulation on, but when printed it will of course be the same. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 18 at 11:57
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if you wanna have a rich black: Keep the k at 100% and give some value to the CMY. for example: C:35 M:35 Y:35 K:100 that would prevent your black to come out dull!

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