I have an image which was created in Adobe Photoshop and is being inserted into a Word Document.

The document contains a rectangle with a coloured fill which the image sits on top of.

The same RGB values are used for the colour in Photoshop and Microsoft Word and this looks perfect on screen however when the document is printed the image colour comes out a darker shade than the document colour.

I have changed the display and Photoshop colour profiles to sRGB IEC61966-2.1.

When I take a screenshot and colour pick the document and image colours in Photoshop they have the same RGB values.

EDIT: Just to check - my problem isn't that the chosen colour isn't identical to the on-screen colour (I know and accept that the printed version will be darker). My problem is that if I create a solid coloured rectangle in Photoshop and then save it. When I insert the image into Word and then add a rectangle as a Word shape and use the same RGB colour settings for its filled background and click print the image colour will print darker than the Word colour.

  • I've tried putting alpah'd PNGs (removing the BG color) over the background color shapes and I'm still getting the "box" around my images!? I get the same when I attempt to "set transparent color" as well. Oddly, I overlayed a clear PNG over the colored backgrounds and I do not get the "box". Very annoying!
    – Campbeln
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 7:56

5 Answers 5


It's normal that the colors on the screen are always brighter than the ones on paper. There's also other factors like the type of paper you use and the printer itself. And as it was mentioned in the other answers, Microsoft Words is a text editing software and doesn't have much accuracy for color management. I don't know with the new versions of Words but it's possible your color profile is simply ignored by it.

You can try using a tiff image format and have it in CMYK color mode. It will look less bright on the screen but the results should be closer to reality when you print. Yes, tiff are very heavy but they are alright with Words.

You could always use a high quality JPG but you need to be careful with images that have a white background; sometimes the white isn't printed pure white because of the compression and you'll see a very light background instead of white on your images!

If you plan to get that document printed at a print shop, you'll need to get used to CMYK mode. They usually require CMYK colors for your images and texts.


You want the shape created in Word to have the exact same color as the one in Photoshop; they use the same color values but it doesn't work.

I know this might look like a dumb solution but it works in a lot of software and it's another way to maybe fix the issue.

Try to do the same as what is done for websites; create a square of that color in Photoshop and use it as "texture" in your rectangle drawn in Microsoft Word.

Technically, the triangle you created in Photoshop and the rectangle in Word filled with that image should come out the same color.

Fill shape with picture texture in Microsoft Word

Apply custom texture in Microsoft Word to make colors of Photoshop same as colors in Word

  • 1
    Thanks, this seems to work - it's a simple solution and worked the best. Only disadvantage is that the text colours etc. won't quite match but I don't think anyone will notice that!
    – James
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 15:48

What file format are you using? MS Office products prefer PNG files over all others, even if they aren't using a transparent background. Try saving out as PNG, if you aren't already.

I actually think Adobe 1998 is a more widely-used standard for non-Mac, and non-design workflows. It's become much less of an issue over the years, but clearly you're still having trouble.

Finally, MS Word is weird. You may have to concede certain accuracy for the fact that you're demanding a hi-precision piece from a ham-fisted, clunky bit of a software. Perhaps the solution is to create an alternate image that compensates for how MS Word messes things up. For example, if it's too dark, make the image artificially light.

  • Hi, I'm currently saving the file as PNG for Word. Does this mean if I convert the file to use Adobe 1998 it might print correctly? I would lighten the colour however I am unsure how to know the exact amount to do this by since the on-screen colours seem to match.
    – James
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 12:16
  • 1
    Give it a try. The reality of [print] design is often that you'll need to print it out, take a look, make some adjustments, and repeat the process until you're happy with the results. Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 13:05
  • 1
    You may also be running into the "no office printer ever prints the same as any other office printer"; while it's great that you can get a color laser printer for less than $200 there's no way it's going to have the color precision of a professional printer (which costs more than $200 and can't usually be bought at Staples). Also, have you tried CMYK instead of an RGB format? That would preclude png as a format (it gets converted over to RGB when you save it as a png) but you might be able to get a little closer Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 17:35

Two issues are potentially your obstacles:

  1. Is your display monitor calibrated and profiled? If not, you are not even fishing in murky water, you are trying to fish in the desert. What you see on your monitor may be incorrect which will be different from the print
  2. MS Word is not a color managed software as far as I know. If this is a one-time deal, you may be better off creating the document in InDesign. Of course the calibrated and profiled monitor is still a must
  3. On top of all this, on the display monitor you see the image through transmitted light which emanates from the screen, the print on the other hand is seen by reflected light from the surface. There will always be some qualitative differences between the two. A color-managed workflow minimizes this difference.

Word is a bit quirky. In anycase you can get perfect quality pictures from word. There are 2 options as I see it.

  1. If you have a PostScript printer then you can embed EPS with all photoshop print goodies like color correction and priner calibrations. For this to work:

    • both your printer and monitor need to be profiled, or better yet calibrated. Otherwise theres not much point. Alternatively you neeed to make old fashoned lookup tables with visual inspection but thats sonething we did in 1980's.

    • You must be careful inside word. Careless manipulation in scale or rotation in word will ruin the image. As word decides to rasterize the image.

    • You must accept that the preview on word sucks. No WYSIWYG support sorry.

If you dont have a postscript printer you can use distiller or ghostview to make a pdf and print the pdf instead. NOTE: it will not work with PDF saved put of word or via pdf maker. It has to go trough full postscript processing.

  • People keep telling me eps is legacy, except there isnt a option when you want to pull out color correct images out of systems that arent or werent designed to be properly color managed.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 13:15

I had the same problem. When you first print to Microsoft XPS Document Writer, it creates an .oxps document. Print from this document and colors look the same as they do on screen. Also works when you're printing labels and they come out misplaced.

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