Avoiding Dark Prints


Having trouble with dark prints?  The most common cause of this all-too-familiar printing error is designing on a screen that is not calibrated.  Try the below basic monitor calibrations using the tools included with your operating system.  Calibrating your monitor every 2-4 weeks is recommended.  This is especially true for those who often work with graphics

This quick trick will help you avoid the dreaded over-dark print.

Here’s How to Calibrate:

Mac OSX -

The Display Calibrator Assistant tool is in System Preferences. 

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click the Displays icon. Selecting “Show profiles for this display only” is recommended.
  3. Click the “Calibrate…” button. Selecting Expert Mode on the Calibrator’s first page is recommended.  Setting Gamma values to 2.2 will best-match the eSigns.com Windows-based environment. 

Windows Vista, 7, and 8 -

The Calibrate Display Color tool is in the Control Panel.

  1. Click the “Start” button
  2. Type “calibrate”
  3. Select the calibration tool located at (or near) the top of the list.

Windows XP -

This is a bit trickier, as XP doesn’t have a built-in tool.  There are a number of websites that may be used to help calibrate. Here are a few:

Photo Friday — DisplayCalibration.com — Lagom LCD Monitor Test Pages — Online Monitor Test

The notes for XP can also work for even older version of Windows. These sites can also be good references for those running other operating systems.

A few general tips that will help with any system:

  • Set the monitor to the Native/Recommended resolution.  While monitors can work at a variety of screen resolutions, each will have one particular setting it is meant for.  The one I’m using right now has a Recommended resolution of 1920×1080, for example.
  • Make sure the monitor’s color setting is the highest it will support. With most hardware today, that will be “True Color (32 bit)”.
  • Allow the monitor to warm up for 15-30 minutes before calibrating.
  • Make sure that there isn’t any glare, reflections, or strong light/direct light on the screen. Lights should not be aimed at a monitor

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