Could you explain what are the differences in these two and which one should be used for files to be sent to press?

I wasn't able to find any good answer to this question.

2 Answers 2


Document Color is the color mode that your document will be output to when exported for print.

Working CMYK is the CMYK values you are using within your working document. So if your document were RGB, but you wanted to make a color based off of CMYK color values, they would be working CMYK values.

So a CMYK document might look normal on your screen but weird on the web, and vice versa. That kind of thing.

  • My documents has RGB images and spot colors, I'm converting all the spots to process colors. So you are saying Working CMYK would be right fit for my document? vise versa Document Color should be used when there is no RGB images used in the document? Jun 9, 2015 at 14:23
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    If I understand things correctly, working CMYK doesn't have any real effect on the way your document is ouput, it just changes the way it appears while you're working on it. As for the document color mode it would be CMYK in either case as you're designing for print.
    – gburning
    Jun 9, 2015 at 15:03
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    @gburning has the right of it. Working CMYK is just what it says, only really used during the working process. In the end, it will all be outputted to whatever CMYK settings your program is set up to. Jun 9, 2015 at 15:45
  • Why do I have to export if I'm currently working on the document and export it. Still not clear, sorry. If I were currently working on the document, I would export it to RGB, since it will be used on monitors, if I print in house printers, not in press for final printing, I would be using the "Working CMYK"? Jun 9, 2015 at 19:39
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    This answer is very unclear and hard to decipher. I've read it through twice now, and I still don't understand what it's trying to say. It's very simple, though: Working CMYK = the colour profile that InDesign is set to work in and interpret documents through (the one new documents will be, and the one it checks whether files you open are). Document CMYK = the colour profile embedded in the InDesign document itself. Nov 8, 2015 at 0:03

Both should be used for press. Ideally you should always match the working document with the same color mode. CMYK with CMYK, RGB with RGB. The other answer explained it well in a simple way; one way or another your file is going to be output either by exporting into another file format or using a "save as" or printing directly from the file.

The color space of the file itself is the color values being used in each files. Often used for Photoshop or Illustrator files, and also values of your swatches.

The "working document" is how your colors are being interpreted and shown to you by the software. Often used in the "main publishing document" where you assemble all your images together, like InDesign or Illustrator.

So if you're working with a CMYK image on a RGB working space, your CMYK colors will be changed to RGB values. For example, you import an image with a black K100 (a CMYK pure black) in a RGB document, that black will be converted to something like C55-M76-Y24-K78 instead of C0-M0-Y0-K100.

That's why you should simply use the working space in CMYK and the matching CMYK color mode or values when working on print projects. It's not a good habit to "convert" your colors on export, especially when you convert from RGB to CMYK. You lose way too much control of the CMYK values of your colors and can end up with weird results or rich blacks where you shouldn't have them.

Same goes for RGB, you want to reach the maximum colors in that gamut; you'll use RGB color mode in a RGB working document.

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