Screens and visual (colour) display of your thesis

How are colours being displayed?

There are several ways in which a colour can be displayed. Roughly said, colours can be divided in two groups, based on the possession of either one of the following two characteristics. There are colours that are visible because light is reflected, and there are colours that are visible because they emit light. That might sound vague, but it is actually the difference between a printed picture and the same picture on your screen. In the latter case, the picture is displayed by many little lights. In the first case, the ink of the printed picture reflects the light, which enables you to see colour.

In these two worlds (the analogue and digital), there is more than one system to represent these colours. In the printing business, the most common system is the CMYK spectrum. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. The Key represents the amount of black. By mixing these colours, you can create all colours that you desire, but only these that are within the spectrum.

The digital world is based on RGB. This is an abbreviation of Red, Green and Blue. In every screen there are 3 different kinds of lights, in the colours red, green and blue. These are very small, so that your eyes cannot distinguish the separate lamps, but instead mix the combination of colours to one colour. Also this RGB system offers an infinite amount of colours within the spectrum.

The CMYK spectrum is only dependent on the reflection of light, whereas the RGB spectrum adds energy through the lights, which increases the size of the RGB spectrum. Especially bright colours are added in the RGB spectrum. Fluorescent yellow, for example, is impossible to print by using CMYK colours, but it is possible to view on your screen, using the RGB system.

Does this cause any problems for the design and printing of my thesis?

Actually, yes. Your dissertation will, in the end, be a book that consists of CMYK colours and is printed. In an ideal situation, we would show you a printed example with the actual colours for every version of the design of your thesis, so that you know exactly what your thesis will look like. Because this will take too much time and money, (almost) all communication between you and your thesis designer will be through e-mail. This means that you will view all colours via an RGB screen, although the colours are technically using the CMYK system. There is no universal solution for solving this problem, because not all screens are the same. One specific image from your thesis could look different on different screens, dependent on the brand and settings. The next problem is the difference in printing machines. Even professional printers produce unequal output with the same input. The only thing you could do is adjusting the settings of your screen in such a way that they match your printer exactly. However, most screens do not offer such settings, you could only achieve this with a true colour monitor.

A trustworthy solution to get a proper idea of the look and feel of your thesis

Of course, we have thought of a solution. Although it is suboptimal, it will make sure that you will not be presented with unwanted surprises. First of all, there is the experience of our designers, they have a lot of experience with specific printing machines and they know how to create a reliable CMYK colour. Apart from that, we use colour tests. When there is a need for a colour test, this can be executed without additional costs. A colour test means that a printout is made by the printing machine and on the paper by and on which your final thesis will be printed as well.

Before your thesis will be produced, you will receive a print proof, on the right paper and with the right printing quality. In this way, you will not get any unwanted surprises when receiving your final thesis books. Usually the contents of your thesis will not cause any problems, since they are mainly black and white, but the cover could end up differently than expected. Therefore, we always insist to request colour tests in an early stage. When you would like to use a certain shade of blue, you could request a colour test with seven slightly different blue colours of which you choose the one that appeals to you most. By doing so, you will be guaranteed that, regardless of what you see on your screen, the colour will be right.

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