Hello I am new to print as I do most of my works on digital format...my client asked me to edit a label of their product in Adobe Illustrator and here are some terms that I dont know what they mean and how to do it...

"We need Line and Screen Black separation" - what does this mean and how do I do it in illustrator

" key line the knock out type." - I dont know what keyline means and I assume knock out type meant the text. How do I do this keyline thing?

"We will need a light Spot Green (PMS 361 C)" - I read about PMS colors does this mean I need to change the green colors to that PMS spot colors? How do you do this?

the labels looks something similar to this but with white text: enter image description here

Big thanks in advance!

  • "knock out" means that whatever is "behind" or "under" the thing being knocked out gets a hole cut out of it. So, the ink that prints the type is not on top of anything but the paper. I presume Line and Screen Black separation means that solid lines (e.g. line art and type) are on one plate and then tints of black (halftone screens) are on a different plate. If they gave you an old file, most of this is probably already set up, so you have a prototype. I have never had to do any of this for a file myself though, so perhaps someone with pre-press can give an actual answer with tips on how.
    – Yorik
    Feb 2, 2016 at 15:24
  • There is not much sense in using spot colors on that label, you are using cmyk colors. The pantone could be just a reference color, not used as spot. Be carefull on this please. If you dont know beware they do not making you responsable for 100,000 badly printed labels.
    – Rafael
    Feb 2, 2016 at 18:21
  • this is all stuff the prepress folks at the printer should be handling. Not you as the designer.
    – DA01
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:35
  • 1
    @Rafael: I look at labels and things kind of as a hobby when I have idle time. I have seen many labels where it seems like they are all spot, non-process colors. Many packages still have the test and registration targets.
    – Yorik
    Feb 2, 2016 at 22:02
  • Thanks for the replies! Yes I agree that this should be the prepess sides responsibilty but they did say I have to do my best on making this print preparations...hopefully the pre press team can also make the necessary adjustments
    – Kinzuo
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


We need Line and Screen Black separation

likely refers to them wanting a separate black plate for solid black vs. halftoned black (all the grays). This means you'll need to create two separate spot colors in the file (black 1, black 2)

key line the knock out type

Keylining refers to adding "trim" around areas of abutted colors to hide mis-registration issues. This is a good description.

enter image description here

We will need a light Spot Green (PMS 361 C)"

Yes, it means they want to add a spot color to the process. WHICH particular greens need to be swapped out for that one I can't say. That's really a design decision.

All that said, please note that all of these requests are typically things you'd want the printer's own pre-press team to handle, as they will have their own preferences for their own printing process.

  • Thanks so much! This make things clear for me on what I should do..Unfortunately, I have to do these pre press preparations for the labels they sent me so hopefully the printing team would also make the necessary adjustments for this as well..
    – Kinzuo
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:43
  • One other thing for the keyline, does it have to be a black outline? or can it be a darker color? for example a white text on a light green background, so for the keyline i need it to be a darker green?
    – Kinzuo
    Feb 3, 2016 at 1:55
  • @kinzuo it (typically) needs to be a dark single color. Since green is printed with two colors (Y and C) using a green line won't hide any misregistration issues with C and Y. You might be able to use your spot green for it, though.
    – DA01
    Feb 3, 2016 at 4:49

I'm under the impression that a keyline is like a drop shadow kind of. It's like offsetting the type by clicking once down, once over, and displaying in a different color. Like this: enter image description here

Knockout type is any text that doesn't require ink to display, as it will just show the substrate (paper or other media you're printing on) color.

I'm not comfortable trying to answer the rest, as without context it's hard to know what they are asking for.

  • Keyline doesn't refer to drop shadows. It has to do with how to handle color areas abutting each other: labelprintingportland.com/keyline
    – DA01
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:37
  • In the example image the OP posted, I believe the text "fruit cocktail" was knocked out: the light color was not overprinting the green. The text does have a color however.
    – Yorik
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.