View Full Version : Body Copy Color

02-01-2009, 08:53 PM
I'm working on a city visitors guide that, in terms of color, uses three swatches for all graphics and text (not including colored photographs). With text, I have all body copy in a dark minty green and headers/sub headers in dark blue. I was told my an owner of a design business that I should make all body copy black because it will make the photos stand out more, the color registration will be less likely to have problems, and because black is simply the most common body copy color in publications. I would still leave headers blue though.

Does this seem right? After working on this guide so long, I'm not used to it being black, and when I change it, it looks so stark and almost strange. I guess I'm looking for more persuasion to instill confidence in the change. I can post a small JPEG sample of a two-page spread if desired. The stock, by the way, will be white and gloss/semi-gloss.


02-02-2009, 01:33 AM
I'd post a sample - as you say, you are too close to be objective, but someone else may see it differently!

02-02-2009, 07:28 AM
It sounds as if you have simply chosen a mix of CMYK colors to create the green and blue for text, right? Not a good idea.

Mixed color for running text is risky. Printing is a mechanical process, and it is not always capable of perfect registration. Large type, like your heads, would probably be all right, but not the smaller running text.

If you really want to print text in a color, it would be safer to spec it in a mixed-ink color (Pantone or similar) — but talk it over with your printer first, as doing that could cost more.

But why do it? Black is the standard ink color for text. It has the highest contrast with white-ish paper. The point of text is to be read: choice of typeface and size, ink color, width of the lines, spacing — all of that should make the copy easy and comfortable to read. If not, why print the text at all?

By the way: glossy paper is a bad choice for text. Matte-coated, which is smooth enough for photos and crisp printing of text, would be a better choice.

I am a more-or-less retired graphic designer/typesetter, and I agree with your local design business owner. :)

02-02-2009, 12:59 PM
The previous guide, designed and produced by a printing company, used a dark blue for all text. But perhaps they used a spot color to run the bill up (It really wasn't that well designed by the way). Right now I have two solid-to-process swatches for the copy. I originally had just one color but added the other for variety with the subsection titles. I think the stock is more of a matte than gloss. It's smooth and just a tad shiny. The cover will be glossy though.

In terms of photo collages, I was also advised to make one favorite photo larger than the others. I did this with most of them but not yet with the one below.

Here's a JPEG Sample:

Robin Springall
02-02-2009, 01:46 PM
Kathleen is right of course about the potential registration problems of having small text made up of tints, but your colour scheme is nice and it would be a shame to have to use black text.

You can minimise the problems in three ways:
1. Don't use very small text (done)
2. Use a sans-serif font (done)
3. Make all the the green out of just two inks rather than three or four.

02-02-2009, 01:50 PM
The previous guide, designed and produced by a printing company, used a dark blue for all text. But perhaps they used a spot color to run the bill up (It really wasn't that well designed by the way).I loved most of my printers, but as designers they were better at running a press. (I don’t think they were often guilty of choosing expensive tricks to run up the bill; more likely, they chose layouts and processes that were not too much trouble.)

Now that I see your jpeg, this is not dense copy, and the colored type is a more reasonable idea (though it is a bit light, which de-emphasizes it). Anyway, you may still run into trouble with mixed inks for type of that size. Are the heads (Annual Events and Delaware County Fair) base-aligned? They should be — it is a little unsettling to have them just a bit off.

The spacing in the display type at left needs some work: all-caps setting should be letter-spaced (i.e., spaced) out a bit, and the space between the words should be much narrower. (And the V in EVENTS is badly designed — the point should sink below the baseline a bit so it doesn’t appear to be floating (especially as the real caps actually have a lower baseline of their own). You could try increasing the size of the V a tad, then adjusting its baseline, though it risks making it look obviously heavier than its companion letters.)

Given the general style, I would not justify the text block below the pictures (and any others like it). Ragged right would not only be easier to read but more in keeping with the general look of the thing. And you should not indent the first line there — especially if you are using a large cap for emphasis.

How come the bullets are so far away from their text? About half an em is normal.

Sorry if I seem to be nit-picking. Typical designer!

P.S.: I messed up your image by accident and do not seem to be able to fix it. If it is not too much trouble could you attach it to a reply to this. Mea culpa.

02-02-2009, 02:11 PM
kt: P.S.: I messed up your image by accident and do not seem to be able to fix it. If it is not too much trouble could you attach it to a reply to this. Mea culpa.I fixed it...


02-04-2009, 04:22 PM
Sorry if I seem to be nit-picking. Typical designer!Oh no, I appreciate all your comments. My former design teacher was very picky like that too. Good education for me.

That County Fair page is the only one where I put a photo collage above a text block. I'll change it if you really think I should. As for paragraph indentation, is the very first line not supposed to be indented if you use a large cap? The old guide had it similar to mine.

The bullets/tabbing function was tricky to figure out to begin with, but it is a large gap and maybe I could narrow it down.

So you think I should not left-justify the copy? The main influence for that was because I didn't like the ragged right look with text wraparounds on photos (there are a few wraparounds early on in the guide).

I like its overall style, but I agree that the head font isn't the best in terms of spacing or convenience. It required a lot of manual kerning. I probably should narrow down the word spacing too.

People here have made good points on the copy color. But do we have a final verdict on the black/colored copy question?

In its current state, I doubt the average viewer would be at all bothered by the questionable type elements we're speaking of, but again, I'm glad to learn and improve.

02-07-2009, 05:21 PM
Ronald, the bottom line is, as others have said, that if you do not use a spot color for body text, you are gambling on how well the printer can and will hold registration.

In that situation I would contact the printer directly, and ask them "Can you hold registration on this text, for this job?" straight out. Some presses, some pressmen, some printers will be able to do it on some paper stocks. Others will tell you they can't hold it. And of course some will just say yes and screw the job up anyway--so if you want to use CMYK colors for body text, get a WRITTEN approval from the printer, up front, saying that they can run the job without any trouble.

Or, yes, use a spot color. That's not running up the price--that's just the safe way to run the job. Cheaper than a remake, especially if the printer has a 5-color or 6-color press to run the job on, as many do these days. if they have the equipment available, it may only be a nominal charge to ink up the extra roller.