By Chris Cartwright

Graphic Designer – Ray Morgan Company – Chico CA

With my line of work there is always the question of “How do I get the same color out of the printer every time I print.” There are lots of factors that contribute to the ever changing color that comes out of any printer or copier.


The environment where the printer sits is always changing. Areas throughout the country have varying moisture levels and general temperature climates. This could make the paper stock have a higher or lower moister content. The machine itself needs heat to apply the toner to the paper. During winter it may not be able to reach the same exact temperature then it can during the summer.

Paper Stock

Manufactures can’t always get the exact same paper to you in every case. Differences in brightness, thickness, and paper grain all contribute to how the toner lays on paper.

There are multiple options when it comes to paper types, sizes, thicknesses, coatings, and weight. A heavier paper stock needs a higher printer temperature to apply the toner correctly, the color will be darker. Printing on a lighter thin paper, the color will come out lighter. Color paper yields a different color tint since it depends on the white paper to make the color.

Printer Settings

Multifunctional devices have many capabilities and along with that comes lots of settings. Each paper type and print job type have their own set of settings. If the settings are not congruent with the paper type in the drawers you will get differences in the quality and color of the prints. Thick heavy paper needs more toner, high heat, and slow paper movement though the machine for good toner coverage.

User Settings

The application that is used to print has different options. Printing from a web browser, Microsoft Office, or Acrobat PDF reader will all interpret the colors in the file differently. The user could also adjust the settings differently than what the Machine is ready to accept. Depending on the printer to computer relationship one will always over write a setting or two in either direction.

Color information also comes from how the file was originally formatted. Printers, copiers, and MFPs normally have four colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, color model known as CMYK. Documents and graphics built using CMYK matches the printer colors and the results should be what is expected. There is another color model called RGB which is Red Green Blue. Everything you see on the internet is in RGB, since the internet is built for viewing through your screen. The RGB color information has to be converted to be able to print using CMYK since the printer does not have Red, Green, or Blue color toners.

Getting consistent color from a printer is possible if you can keep the environment, paper condition, machine settings, and user settings all exactly the same in all aspects, the integrity of your color will stay the same.