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What is "rich black"?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan

What is "rich black"? When and how should I specify this for my print projects?

Rich black is a printing technique that a printer uses to provide a "richer" black, with more depth, for printed areas that are solid black. It is used so that the black doesn't look washed out. The printer prints various screen percentages of cyan, magenta, and/or yellow under the black ink to create this effect.

There is no set formula for using the combination of these additional inks. Each printer seems to have their own system. Some printers use only one or two of the above colors, because using all three may result in unwanted dot gain.

Rich black is usually specified for high-quality print projects. A high-end printer might recommend this to you, depending on your job.

Years ago, rich black was specified more often than it is now. That could be due to the fact that many print buyers today may not be aware of this technique.

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