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Which Is Best For Print? Explaining the Difference Between RBG and CMYK in 90 Seconds

Which Is Best For Print the difference between RBG and CMYK in book printing black and white vs color

If you’re an instructional or graphic designer, then you probably know saving your files in RGB or CMYK can make a big difference in the final outcome of your created files.

The question is, which one is better for printed materials?

Let’s break it down in simple terms.

Understanding CMYK vs. RBG

RBG (red/green/blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black) are two different ways to mix color in graphic design and print.

In short: RGB is best for colors on digital screens, while CMYK is preferred for colors used in print materials.


Put plainly, the way colors are created on digital screens is very different from how they appear on paper. 

Digital Screens and Printed Paper: Which Provides a Better Color Match?

Computer, phone, and iPad screens use light to feature and illuminate symbols on a device, while physical printing uses ink. 

Depending on the device being used, a whole host of factors could influence the final result of the color you see in front of you: screen brightness, color calibration, the age of the device, device cleanliness, and PPI (pixels per inch).

Let’s say you save your files in RGB format, straight from your device. The colors you see clearly on a computer screen might not look the same when printed—by a little, or a lot! 

Some colors may appear dull, muted, or entirely different from what you see on your screen. That’s because devices are coded to represent colors in a static way, without any physical alchemy or standardization.

However, if you save them in CMYK format, you are telling the printer how to mix the ink colors to create the exact shades you want—guaranteeing the perfect result, every time.


Saving your files in the right format can make a big difference in the final quality and accuracy of your design. 

Always remember: CMYK is king when it comes to print materials!

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