I've recently (2 years ago) started studying and doing graphic design work, and I've only adjudicated work with print shops in stationery (calendars, envelopes, notepads) for the company I work for.

About colour profiles: There are A LOT of colour profiles, from which I figure SWOP v2 and FOGRA to be the most used. I'm in Europe so should FOGRA be the standard?. The printer we have in the office has the following profiles in the driver: SWOP, Euroscale, Japan Color, ISO coated and ISO uncoated. Should this match the file's color profile? What should I use for standard office paper printing? And for external print jobs?

Thank you

  • Hi yellowmatter and welcome to GD.SE! Your question(s) will likely get closed as too broad. Please split each specific question you have. You should make one question per post. The tour might be a good starting point :)
    – curious
    Jun 2, 2022 at 15:12
  • I agree with @curious. You have at least 4 questions if not more: 1. "Do offset jobs with 1, 2 or 3 colors vary a lot in cost?". 2. "Have recent developments in digital printers / technology started to make offset worse in comparison cost and quality-wise?". 3. "I'm in Europe so should FOGRA be the standard?". 4. A big ball of color profile confusion regarding printing on an office printer, how to set up InDesign, how to set up InDesign documents and how to set up your printer.
    – Wolff
    Jun 2, 2022 at 15:35
  • 1
    Part of the reason that offset costs more for small runs is that the setup and clean down time & effort is the same for 1 sheet as it is for 50,000. It can take half a morning to get a big litho press running, with a 3-man team, even once you have the plates. Digital costs the same per sheet, as there's no setup nor clean down.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 2, 2022 at 15:43
  • You're right, the post is a bit long, i'll edit it. Jun 2, 2022 at 16:21
  • It's not just about length but more about asking one question per question post
    – curious
    Jun 2, 2022 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Ok the entire purpose and inner working of profiles is a bit counterintuitive. Mainly because what you think of being as one thing is actually several things bundled into one.

Firstof, lets introduce some language to help you think clearer.

  • A calibration is tuning a system so that it shows a standard value

  • A characterisation is measuring your system to know how its different from the calibration.

  • Emulation is using characterisation to act as if you were calibrated in some space. Unlike calibration there is no guarantee that the space can be attained, just that you will try your best.

  • Simulation is trying to show you what another device would look like in software

  • Profiles deal with describing your devices color capabilities and what you intend to be done with colors it can not do. It can also be used to describe calibration targets and convert from one space to another, so that you can simulate and emulate.

What does the printer profiles mean? Well we dont know, youd have to read your printers technical manual. Presumably the printer has some way to measure itself and then either calibrate to or emulate the space in question. Or not its all just marketting.

In reality you should measure your results. But i am under no illusion that most users have this capability.

Ok so now your subquestions. Easiest first: What should I use for standard office paper printing?

There is no such thing as standard printer paper. What you do is you run the calibration cycle when you change your paper brand, or every so often. Then you choose the profile you want your printer to proof for. How good this is anybodys guess no measurement done by you.

Should this match the file's color profile?

Maybe. In reality this is a kind of sophisticated question. Its a bit like asking how to get from a to b in a city, there are lots of ways to do it. Some of which are downright insane, but might qualify for some special purpose. Lets split it up to 3 categories:

  1. Those that actually dont need any accuracy at all. In this case it hardly matters for anything other than being able to see that your color isnt wildly out of capabilities of your device and theres some semblance of sanity in your workflow.

    In this case you probably want to use a colorspace that is good for you to work in. You would probably keep most of your photographic images tagged with profile and keep images in rgb and only set cmyk colors for black and very dark colors. Use whatever makes sense for your country, soft proof your device space and avoid super saturated colors.

    98% of users are in this category including 70% of designers.

  2. You have some archivial need or presentation need where some repeatability is in order.

    Like example i print colored labels that get cut to shape. Since there is lots of labels and stock sometimes changes i prefer not to scrape all labels off everytime I make a change.* So i wish to document what i used when i made the first batch. I dont actually care that the color isnt same just as long as it hits the ballpark. I trust that the new printer we now have can be close enough not to cause people to notice.

    Again, just choose one and keep it tagged. Probably in this case you may or may not want to specify full cmyk.

  3. Its mission critical. Like packages for consumer goods sold in retail stores. Any deviation in color will raise questions of a bad batch and thus really cost you money.

    In this case you hire a person to set up everything periodically, train new people every now and then.

And for external print jobs?

Ask your printer not random strangers on internet.

* ok so it does not make sense to make one label at a time so i might redo one shelf at a at a time.

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