My print has got a plain dark grey background CMYK of 0, 0, 0, 90. This has just been rejected from the printers because 'it was black space and not CMYK'.. Not fully understanding this I decided to combine small amount of the other inks perhaps CMKY 30, 22, 22, 80 to create the dark grey. My problem now is that I have a lot of small white text over the grey so I'm worried that using a mixture of inks will make the text be blurred at the edges where the ink doesn't quite line up.

So I have a few questions really.

  1. Does anyone know why this was rejected at the printers - could I have saved it incorrectly from inDesign, or can I just not use the combo 0,0,0,80?
  2. Can anyone recommend a good CMYK for dark grey?
  3. Any tips for not ending up with blurred white text?

3 Answers 3


You can't* reverse text with 4C printing.

You'll need impossible-to-achieve registration for reverse text to look clean and sharp. Even the printer will agree if you ask. Small text will exaggerate any misalignment. Forget serifs!

Next, let me admit right out front that I've never heard of "black-space," let alone "black space and not CMYK" so I can't help you there. I could make an educated guess. Why waste your time? For what it's worth, ask. Maybe he has no idea, himself.

So I'd suggest…

For clean reversed text on a dark grey, I'd go with a spot grey. You have a choice of warm and cool greys and no alignment to speak of.

*without a snootful of time and trouble.


See this link: What CMYK values should I use for rich black, and how should I handle tints/shades?

Then ask your printer what breakout they prefer for rich black.

Create a swatch using that build, and then adjust the tint for the swatch.

Don't try and formulate a "rich grey" simply use 80% of a rich black.

As for your concern about the type, it should be fine unless you are using very, very small type sizes.


You can trap your small white text with thin pure Black color (non-overprint) stroke. It will solve the problem somehow. But using spot gray is much better.

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