Black vs. Rich Black: Why and When to Use Each

Printing is pretty straightforward, right? You have two options: there’s printing in color, and there’s printing in black and white. Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. Black is a sneaky print color that comes in more than one flavor: black and rich black.

What’s the difference?
There’s more than one way to create print in black. “Standard” black is printed strictly with black toner (K cartridge). “Rich” black, however, combines K with sub-tones of the other print colors (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow). This layering provides richness and depth to the color.

Why choose one over the other?
Quality — Color variation in blacks can be very difficult to detect on a screen. In contrast, when printed, rich blacks have a deep tone that pops from the page, while regular black can appear flat and even muddy.
Legibility — Layering toner to achieve a rich black can affect the printout’s crispness, especially in small font sizes, making regular black the better option in these instances.
Cost — Regular black uses less ink to print than rich black, because the printer doesn’t layer different colors of toner over the same area on a page.

When to use rich black
Solid Black Areas — Prevent blandness and muddy gray-blacks by using rich black on important print materials like brochures and posters.
Black Over Another Color — Rich black works together with the background colors you’re printing. Using black can confound the colors and let layers show through.
Large Type — Large font sizes need the same treatment as other solid areas, so use rich black for a deep—rather than one-dimensional—black.

When to use black
Text-Only Documents — Text, especially smaller font sizes, thrives in standard black.
Black-and-White Documents — Many documents, even those with images, can convey their information very well using only black ink.

Black and rich black have subtle but noticeable differences. Before you hit print, choose your blacks wisely to get the quality and legibility you want while limiting cost and conserving toner. Call Infomax Office Systems to optimize your printing strategy, including smart use of black and rich black.