I'm trying to digitally print a shrink wrap label that will have some pretty small font on it. (The overall size of the label is 81mm x 84mm) Preferably, different sections of copy on the label would be distinguished in various shades of grey. The printer I am working with is worried that by not printing all the copy in black, the text will be grainy. Is there a way to prevent this from happening?


When printing with process color (CMYK) there is no gray ink. The typical way to achieve it is to use a screen of black (K). A screen is when you print a dot pattern vs. a solid color. The smaller the dots the lighter the 'gray' will appear.

The problem is doing this with type. Your printer has a valid concern and your type will likely not come out how you'd like them to.

The only way to really prevent this is to print solid color. To do that, you'd have to run spot colors and print with actual gray inks. This is certainly doable, but may cost you more to have done.

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  • Or you could use line screens? OR other methods to make it appear gray that's not so edge sensitive. – joojaa Aug 13 '14 at 5:13
  • @joojaa possibly, but we're talking type. I think the printer has a valid concern. – DA01 Aug 13 '14 at 6:03
  • yes yes, wanted to say that alternative approaches, even if not perfect, do exist. Btw Should we make an artificial question about how a printer makes color. – joojaa Aug 13 '14 at 6:04
  • Sure, though, again, I'm not sure what alternatives are valid when it comes to small type. Using a line pattern versus dot pattern will still cause edge issues with type. Given that type is mostly 'edge' to begin with, I think implementation options are going to be limited. – DA01 Aug 13 '14 at 6:06
  • Yes but you can tighten the pattern by discarding possibilities for different color intensities so if black (25) 50 and (75) gray are enough you could do with a 2 pixel high and wide raster box. For example a 1200 dpi print with a 2 print pixel sized raster box is pretty tight compared to the default screen. You could outline with a stroke so its edges are sharp etc, again just how small is small is another thing. – joojaa Aug 13 '14 at 10:14

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