Writing, Reading, All Things YA

A Mini Lesson in Print vs Web Colour

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First of all, I’m Canadian so I spell colour with a U. My apoloigies to my friends south of the 49th… You’ll cope! ;)

Second of all…

You know everything you learned about colour in 1st grade? The primary, secondary and tertiary? Yeah those ones.


When you design your cover you need to know two things about choosing colours, okay maybe two and a half things:

CMYK for print

C – Cyan

M – Magenta

Y – Yellow

K – Black

CMYK is a series of dots that is laid over each other to create the illusion of one solid blended colour.

CMYK is used in print and is called a 4-colour process. If you are printing things out yourself such as bookmarks, business cards etc you will have the option of doing a one, two or three colour process as well. Most print shops charge you based on how many colours you need.

Colours are mixed by adding percentages. EX a dark forest green is 100% cyan, 0% Magenta, 81% Yellow and 66% Black. This would be considered a three colour process as there is no Magenta in it whatsoever.

RGB for web

R – Red

G – Green

B – Blue

Yes that is correct, the primary colours on the web are different than those from print, which are different from those of paint.

RGB is used exclusively on the web and you would be wise to use it for designing your eBook cover and blog/website.

RGB colours are recognized by a code starting with a #. EX the code for the same dark green I mentioned up above is #005710 There are two numbers to correspond with each colour; Red – 00, Green – 57, and Blue – 10. This means there is no red used to create this colour just like there is no Magenta used in the CMYK version.

RGB and CMYK will display just a tiny bit differently even if you are using the exact same colour. If you try to print a RGB photo on a CMYK printer your colours may distort. They may not, but it is wise to convert it first. Better to know what to expect.

Why does this distortion happen? I have not a sniff of an idea, it just does. After a few unexplainable screw-ups, I just decided to not ask questions and convert my photos because it saves time and energy on things I don’t much care about.

There is also PANTONE colours which are used on printing plates the old fashioned way but I won’t get into it here. It gets confusing and if your using pantone colours you are probably working with a designer so don’t worry about it. is an AMAZING website to come up with colour combinations and colour schemes for you cover, your blog, your stationary, or even your kids next birthday party. It even gives you the CMYK, RGB and Pantone codes.

It also has great info on colour and how to use it.

I love this site!!

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One thought on “A Mini Lesson in Print vs Web Colour

  1. Pingback: The 7 Elements of Design – Speed dating edition | ALLIE B BOOKS

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