I'm wondering what the function of adding these color spectrums is?

Attaching screenshot.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


It used to verify both registration and color solidity after stock has run through a press.

It's a quick way to allow the pressman to see how solid the cyan/magenta/yellow was when it ran through the press, etc. The greens, blues, etc are used to verify the color build registration.

It is merely an uncontaminated area of color for double checking printed pieces.

The color bars have no use on-screen.

  • Oh, so it kind of isolates the variable so you can see right away if the printed page is due to a hardware issue e.g. low ink levels or if it is because of the color selected on the computer during the design process?
    – maxwell
    Jul 24, 2014 at 16:49
  • 4
    It's more about the color off the press and nothing about your computer. It allows the pressman to verify the Cyan ink on the printed piece is the correct consistency. On screen, there's no use for the color bar.
    – Scott
    Jul 24, 2014 at 16:51

They're called Color Bars. As Scott has already said, they're for quality control purposes. Some programs have an option to add them automatically, here's how you can do it in Illustrator:

Illustrator print dialog

Here are the bars that Illustrator provides:

AI Color Bars

The letters correspond to a mixture of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key). So CM would be a mixture of cyan and magenta to create a deeper blue. The color bars in your example appear to have different tints of the base colors as well.


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