Managing screen and output colors

Computer monitors and the printed page use entirely different methods to reproduce color. It’s a perennial challenge to accurately translate the color information in an on-screen image to a printing press which will apply various inks to paper (or some other material). The problem is compounded as more devices are involved, e.g. scanner and digital camera for importing images, monitor for display, and color printer, imagesetter, and printing press for the final output. Each of these uses different technology and has a different color gamut—a range of colors it can detect and/or produce.

One reasonably foolproof solution is to use a color matching system. Otherwise, unless you take steps to coordinate the different sensitivities of the various devices you’re using, your printed output may bear little relation to the initial colors. Adjusting your monitor’s brightness and contrast settings as directed by the manufacturer is a start, but with PagePlus you can go considerably further.

PagePlus supports an industry-standard color format developed by the International Color Consortium (ICC) which lets you save color images along with ICC descriptions, called color profiles, of the applicable output devices you’re using. PagePlus can utilize in-built ICC profiles when it opens a color file. A color profile is a mathematical way of converting to a device-independent color space, so that the internal RGB and/or CMYK colors in your publication’s fills and bitmaps will map to on-screen and printed colors. PagePlus also lets you display colors on your monitor so they match those colors that your printer can reproduce. Your monitor or printer manufacturer’s website should have additional information on how those devices use ICC profiles. Another good source is

It’s possible to adopt alternative internal color profiles as long as they are currently installed on your computer. Some monitors and printers have their own color profile instead. PagePlus lets you load a specific monitor or printer’s profile, again ensuring accurate color display.

By default, color management is enabled in order to normalize images on import to the internal color space. However, to allow color management to operate correctly you have to set up your monitor or printer’s color profile.

To set up color profiles:

  1. Choose Color Management… from the Tools menu.

  2. Use the dialog’s drop-down lists to select the automatically installed profiles to be used for your Monitor or Printer. If necessary, choose a different Internal RGB or Internal CMYK profile.

    Internal RGB

    PagePlus supports an internal color profile called sRGB, and is used by default as PagePlus’s Internal RGB color space. If you set your monitor to its sRGB mode (check the manufacturer’s instructions), you can be assured that PagePlus is displaying colors as realistically as possible.

    Be sure to choose a color palette (CMYK or RGB) to match the type of output you’re aiming for.

    Internal CMYK

    Another Internal CMYK profile, can be adopted specifically for RGB to CMYK color conversions.

    Monitor profile

    All computer monitors needs RGB data to display on-screen. However, one monitor’s interpretation of RGB green might be different from another’s. Color profiles (described above) exist to iron out the differences.

    When you install a physical device such as a monitor, the device’s color profile should be installed automatically, so you’ll be able to see and select the profile within PagePlus’s Color Management feature.

    If your monitor profile has not installed automatically, you’ll have to manually install them once downloaded from the device manufacturer’s website. The profiles will show in the appropriate profile drop-down list once installed. See your operating system’s and/or device’s documentation for more details.

    Printer profile

    This allows you to select the ICC color profile of your printer, to proof on screen how your publication will print. This list represents the currently installed printer profiles on your computer, if any. See your printer manufacturers website for suitable ICC profiles.

  3. If you check Proof for current printer profile, on-screen colors will match the colors your printer (per its profile) can reproduce.

  4. (Optional) For image handling, choose how to color manage imported images from the On encountering an image… drop-down list. (See below.)

  5. Click OK.

Displaying CMYK black on RGB devices

It may be necessary to output Pure CMYK Black and Rich CMYK Black as RGB black, to screen, image, print, or PDF. PagePlus lets you do this from Tools>Options….    

To control the on-screen display and image export of CMYK black:

  1. In Tools>Options…, select Drawing Quality>Appearance of Black.

  2. From the For Screen and Image export drop-down list, choose:

  • Display blacks accurately to display to monitor and export to image, Pure CMYK Black and Rich CMYK Black using a CMYK to RGB conversion. They will look different on-screen.

  • Display blacks as rich black to display Pure CMYK Black and Rich CMYK Black as RGB Black. They will look the same on-screen.

To control print and PDF publishing of CMYK black:

  1. In Tools>Options…, select Drawing Quality>Appearance of Black.

  2. From the For Print and PDF drop-down list, choose:

  • Display blacks accurately to output Pure CMYK Black and Rich CMYK Black to an RGB printer or RGB PDF using a CMYK to RGB conversion. They will look different in print.

  • Display blacks as rich black to output Pure CMYK Black and Rich CMYK Black to the above as RGB Black. They will look the same on-screen.

Image handling in color management

Some images may store an embedded ICC color profile within them. When importing such images, it’s up to the user what course of action to take for color management of that image—either ignore or convert its profile. If you’re importing multiple “color managed” images you can also be asked per image what action to take.

Options from the On encountering an image… drop-down list are as follows:

  • Ignore Embedded Profile: The embedded ICC color profile or EXIF color profile tag is ignored; the internal color space is used.

  • Normalize to Internal Profile: Color information from the image’s pixels is converted to the document’s color space set up for that type of image (RGB, CMYK). Use if you want to force all colors to use a single profile.

  • Ask: A dialog is invoked on image import to decide which of the above options you want to use.

  • RGB images without a color profile are assumed to be sRGB compatible.

  • An Image’s EXIF data may contain a color space tag which can be AdobeRGB or sRGB.

  • Don’t forget to optimize your monitor settings and calibrate your monitor(s) accurately and often! See your monitor’s user documentation for more information. A range of reasonably priced Monitor Calibrators are now available which don’t require in-depth knowledge of color management to operate.

Managing screen and output colors