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The paper stock on which you print can have a major effect on your output.

Stock comes in many forms and can range from newsprint all the way to plastic film. How inks are act when applied to paper is a complex issue and worthy of some discussion.

There are several points worth considering:

What does this mean? Well, when you use Spot colors (like Pantone colors) the ink that is applied to the page on the press does not let light through to the paper and so is affected a lot less by the color of the paper. But, when using 3 or 4-color process inks, the ink is transparent (so each ink color is able to modify the light) so the light hitting the page passes through the ink, gets reflected off the page, and then passes through the ink again before it travels to your eyes. This means that the color of the paper stock plays a huge role in determining the final look of your output.

What do I do about it? A well-made printer profile should take paper stock color into consideration but you should note that the Rendering Intent you select will or will not correct for the stock color. Choose this carefully.

Ink Absorption and Dot Gain

If the stock you are using is absorbent and the inks are liquid (as opposed to wax or toner as in many proofing printers) then the ink will "wick" into the paper as it is applied. This makes the dots fuzzier and larger and is one of the contributors to Dot Gain. For example, if you print a 10% cyan square on the page and then take a reading of the square with a Densitometer, you may find that it is in fact a 15% cyan square. This means your printer or press has a 5% dot gain.

What do I do about it?

Again, a printer profile should automatically take dot gain into consideration and compensate for it. This is yet another reason to profile for every paper stock you use, as each one will affect ink differently.

See Also

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