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Offset printing as well as most digital printing uses either a four colour CMYK or spot colour system. The CMYK letters stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

This is in contrast to the RBG colour system used by computer monitors, digital cameras and scanners. The letters RGB refer to the three colours that are used to represent colour on the Red, Green and Blue.

The two colour systems are different, and are used for different purposes. Four colour CMYK printing can produce most colours by laying the transparent printing inks one above the other. RGB colours are used in electronic displays and devices.

To accurately print an RGB colour file, it must be converted to CMYK.

Most colours can be matched using CMYK however some colours simply cannot be created with colour blends using this method. To reproduce those colours, special inks called spot colours are used. Spot colours are sometimes used by large corporations to print their corporate colours with absolute consistency.

If you wish to use one or more spot colours in your print job, you will choose from a swatch book with more than 700 colour samples shown on coated and uncoated paper stocks. The colour system for spot colours is the Pantone Matching System (PMS), and the PMS swatch books are the standard used by printers and designers worldwide.

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