Printed Colors Different than on Screen: Blue is Purple, etc.

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You may notice that the colors on your screen and the colors that you print look different; for example, blue becomes purple and red becomes orange. This is not a problem with your printer driver, with Microsoft Windows, or with your printer.


Many Windows color printer drivers were designed using the cyan-magenta- yellow-black (CMYK) color model. (You can tell if your printer uses this model by looking at the ribbon. If it has four bands of blue, red, yellow and black, its associated Windows printer driver probably uses the CMYK model.)

The CMYK model uses subtractive primary colors rather than additive primary colors. The most common additive model is red-green-blue (RGB). An additive model adds colors together to create the desired color. For example, to create white, RGB adds all the colors together. To create black, RGB adds no colors, leaving the screen (or whatever media) black.

The CMYK model subtracts cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to create the desired color. So, to create black, CMYK uses all the colors. To create white, it uses no colors. This method is well-suited to printing on paper.

Because your computer monitor is using RGB and your printer is using CMYK, the results will differ. To better print primary colors, like blue or red, choose cyan or magenta respectively. For other colors, some experimentation may be necessary.


Microsoft Press Computer Dictionary


Article ID: 97600 - Last Review: September 24, 2011 - Revision: 3.0
  • Microsoft Windows 3.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.1

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