Friday September 01, 2017

Preflightin’ it old skool: color bars and registration symbol

Topics: Print

What are those colour bars for?

If you’re new to the printing industry and have a keen eye for detail, you’re probably wondering what those little color bars and bullseye symbols in newspapers are for. And if you’re interested in logo design, chances are you can’t help but ask yourself why the Enfocus logo looks a bit like those bullseye symbols (or like the BMW logo, if you’re a car fanatic). In this article we explain all about old-skool preflighting, and you’ll find out why the Enfocus logo looks the way it does. 

What’s in a color bar? Loads of information!

Unlike page content, color bars remain consistent throughout the entire print job. Serving as a benchmark for printers, color bars are used to check whether all pages of a job are consistent in terms of ink coverage and color density. Evidently, printers can compose their own color bars according to the capabilities of their printing equipment and a job’s particular requirements. 

What are those color bars for?
Registration symbols

The miniature bullseyes we mentioned in the introduction are actually called registration symbols. Printers use them to verify whether each color plate is correctly lined up to the next. If that is indeed the case, the registration symbol will be printed as one solid area.  

If a color plate is not properly lined up, the registration symbol will appear unfocused.

(So, now can you see where the inspiration for the Enfocus logo comes from?)


What are those color bars for? Crop marks

Remember when we talked about bleed? Next to registration symbols, printers also rely on crop marks (or trim marks) to crop jobs correctly. Bleed should always extend beyond the trim area as printers are unable to print to the very edge of the paper.



PDF preflighting 2.0

Although color bars and registration symbols remain a popular and efficient means to preflight print jobs, many professional printers and graphic designers turn to digital preflighting tools.

Find out how you can preflight and (automatically) edit PDFs in a snap with PitStop Pro.





About Piet De Pauw

After obtaining a bachelor's degree in Graphic Arts, Piet started his career as a software support engineer at Esko. This immediately made him realize the vital importance of automation within an organisation.

Passionate about the web, he became an online marketer at Thomas More university college, gained a lot of digital marketing experience and re-joined Esko in the Enfocus business unit.

Today he's in charge of driving interest for the Enfocus automation solutions. As you're reading this after reading an entire article, he might think he succeeded...

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