I'm currently dealing with a printer, who I've been working with for a year or two. We've sent off to had one of our brochures reprinted - the same files as last time, except now they're having some problems with the files. The exact wording in their email was:

We have a bit of an issue with your files, the black text has been set up so as it prints as a composite of 4 colours, rather than just black. This will cause a printing problem as the slightest movement will make the text look fuzzy. We can often correct this using the software tools we have but this has not been successful on this occasion. Are you able to re-supply the files with the text as black only?

I looked at the files and I appear to have been supplying them in RGB rather than CMYK, so I thought that might be the solution, however, the problem persists.

How would I have configured black in my files to print as four colours rather than black and how do I go about fixing it? Sounds a little strange to me, as it sounds more like a printer problem - but I'm not printing expert/professional.


  • 1
    Set the text as 100% K. What are you using to create the files? What type of files are they - book, brochure, postcard, manual, poster, advertisement?
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 10:36
  • @Scott - Thanks Scott, that fixed it. The question now is... After reading this question (graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/668/…), what if I wanted my text to be a 'rich' black but not blurred? Would there be anything I could do in that case?
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 10:56
  • 3
    Rich black isn't advisable for small or smallish text. Slight miss registration of the plates could make the text look awful. Rich blacks are only good for large areas of black. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 11:08
  • 1
    Basically, this is because the text is composed of overlaid "screens" (non-contiguous dots arranged in a grid or hex-grid pattern) at angles so with small lines, you are more likely to have dots on either side of the "line" rather than perfectly aligned. Multiply this effect across 4 color plates and you get non-sharp outlines. Could the OP include the software being used to create the artwork?
    – horatio
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:51
  • Some detailed info about black and rich black, and how to use black recipes for printing projects: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/2984/…
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 3:12

2 Answers 2


I suspect this came about by working in RGB to start with, then converting to CMYK. This would turn your RGB(0,0,0) text into a colour composed of all four CMYK channels, rather than pure 100% K.

As Marc and Scott say, body text should be 100% K.

(If you did need a stronger black, you's be better of going for a double hit of the black plate rather than using a rich black, as the effects of misregistration would be less noticeable/problematic).


Refer to a richer black in CMYK as C50% M40% Y40% K 100% try this to compensate for a rich blk.

  • What is new here? That was already mentioned ... But nevertheless: Welcome to GD.SE!
    – Mensch
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 10:12

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