RE. PMS Colors in Word?

Subject: RE. PMS Colors in Word?
From: "John Bell" <jbell -at- siebel -dot- com>
To: "Writer list (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Jun 2000 07:15:42 -0700

Wes Reisz wonders
> Has anyone ever attempted to set a PMS font color in
> Word? ... if so, how? I might be missing something,
> but it appears MSWord doesn't allow it.>>

and Geoff Hart responds:
> If you're missing it, then join the club; nobody I've
> talked to, including a couple of high-end service bureaus,
> had any idea how to get reliable color out of Word. If
> you're printing PMS color, you need to be able to generate
> spot-color separations as opposed to CMYK separations,
> and Word can't do either: it uses an onscreen RGB color
> model. Even getting reliable color with embedded
> PostScript graphics and an inkjet printer doesn't seem to
> be possible; with a good printer driver you can come close,
> but that's not good enough for truly reliable color output.
> If we've missed something, I'd love to hear about it....

I don't know much about Word, but if Geoff says it doesn't
handle separations, then you won't be able to use PMS colors
in a print out. I know FrameMaker very well, I and I know you
can specify PMS colors and generate color separations for use
by a service bureau.

Geoff also notes that getting reliable color out of Word
with embedded PostScript graphics isn't possible, and he
is correct. Here's why:

Printers are notoriously variable devices. You can print the
same color image every day for a week and get slightly
different results each day. In general, the less expensive
the printer, the more variability in color reproduction.
Compounding this is the use of different papers (plain,
glossy, matte, and so on) because each paper has different
ink absorption characteristics and different reflectance/
scattering characteristics. I won't even get into other
factors, such as ink, humidity, nozzle cleanliness, and so on.
The short of it is that accurate color reproduction hinges
on factors that can change, some of them out of your control,
but some of them in your control.

The solution for accurate reproduction does exist, but it
involves software, some hardware, and time. Professional
graphic artists and high-end print shops will make the
investment, but it is usually too much effort for the average
writer or desktop publisher to get involved with. If you
don't go the high-end route, you have to be satisfied with
whatever plops out of your printer, which I am pleased to say
is usually pretty good. It isn't perfect, but I find most
of it acceptable for my uses (such as a color photograph on
a manual cover).

The high-end solution involves making an ICC profile of the
printer you are going to use, an ICC profile for your monitor,
and usually one for your scanner as well. ICC profiles contain
information about how the device (printer, monitor, scanner)
reproduces color, what its gamut is, and so on. Software that
can use ICC profiles can then adjust the colors in the image
using the profile information to get the best color from your
device. You occasionally need to re-profile your devices
(especially printers) to account for their changing over time.
For printers, you also need a separate ICC profile for each
paper & ink combination you use.

ICC profiles aren't any good without software that uses those
profiles. On the Mac there is ColorSync, and on Windows there
is ICM. ColorSync and ICM are system-level functions that handle
color transformations for applications such as PhotoShop,
QuarkXPress, and so on. ColorSync has been around for a number
of years on the Mac, but ICM is fairly new to Windows 98 and
NT (and 2000 I guess). ICM is still in its infancy and is
too rudimentary for professional use. I do not know that any
applications are ICM-aware yet, whereas there are many
ColorSync-aware applications. This is why graphic artists
still need Macs, as Windows does not support accurate color

Unfortunately, FrameMaker is not ColorSync (or ICM) aware.
I've e-mailed Adobe asking if FM6 is ColorSync-aware, but
its been four weeks now with no response. I highly doubt it
is. There is an alternative. You can color manage images
before importing them into FrameMaker (or Word for that matter).
By using an application that is ColorSync-aware to adjust the
colors in the image using the ICC profile for your printer,
you can make a version of the image that is tailored for your
printer/paper/ink combination. Hopefully FM or Word will not
make any color adjustments to the image and the resulting image
will print properly.

If you need more information on color reproduction, profiling
software and hardware, or color spaces in general, just
write to me.

--- John Bell
jbell -at- siebel -dot- com

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