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Date Created: 4/18/2005   Date Modified: 5/19/2016

+Print Does Not Match Display - troubleshooter

To have a print and display match in a color managed workflow, at a minimum, three components are required:

  • An accurate monitor profile
  • An accurate printer profile
  • Software properly configured to use them

The monitor profile allows a color management aware application, like Photoshop, to display color accurately on the display. To achieve a similar appearance in print, the existing color information must be translated to the appropriate values for printer/paper/ink combination being used. In addition, the printer profile must also accurately describe the appearance of ink on the page. Thus the printer profile is a critical component in matching the screen and the print. An inaccurate printer profile (or lack of one) will make matching impossible.

In the vast majority of situations, the display can reproduce a larger range of colors (gamut) than the printer can. Therefore, we cannot make the print look like the display, but instead, must make the display look like the print. The image below illustrates this issue.


The smaller red object represents the range of colors that a sample printer can reproduce. The larger translucent object represents the range of colors reproducible by a sample display.

Making the display look like the print requires that you send the image through the printer profile and back through the monitor profile. This is commonly referred to as "soft proofing. The "Proof Setup" function in Adobe Photoshop 7 and later provide a method for simulating the printed image on screen without altering the original. In other workflows (and earlier versions of Photoshop) you may have to actually convert the file to the printer space to preview it properly on screen. In this case, we recommend working with a duplicate of the original file to avoid changing the original accidentally.

If you are having difficulty getting a match from print to monitor, you will need to examine each of the items above. All three must be in place to achieve a reasonable match. For information on configuring your third-party software to use your custom profiles, please see this page.

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