What kind of black should I use when designing for CMYK print?

100% Black ONLY may appear “charcoal”, simply because it hasn’t been enriched with any other colors. Inks are semi-transparent, therefore 100% Black only will NOT look like a dark black.


To get a rich black on press, you must create what is called a “build” or “bump”. 

This is usually something like: 100% black and 50% Cyan, or 40% Cyan  / 30% Magenta / 30% Yellow / 100% Black. You can make a warmer black by using less cyan and more yellow, or a cooler black with more cyan and less yellow.


When designing for printing on paper, please be sure to use the CMYK color space and not RGB, which is used for viewing only. If you choose a black made from an RGB mix, it will become too dense when converted to CMYK. If the inks are too dense, they may not dry properly and small or fine type will likely get covered in too much ink.