RGB vs. CMYK document mode in Adobe applications


Should I use RGB or CMYK document mode in Adobe software?

Which mode you use, CMYK or RGB, depends on your workflow.

Pantone recommends that whenever possible, you work in RGB and convert to CMYK at the time of output. This is known as a 'late-binding' workflow and will generally provide the best results, particularly when working with photographic image files. The reason for this is that RGB is typically a much wider gamut for photo-editing. Once you are ready to print, provided you have good quality ICC profiles for the printer, you can typically obtain good results.

However, some designers choose to convert to CMYK immediately. This is known as an 'early binding' workflow. While this is not wrong, the chief disadvantage of an eary binding workflow is that your files are limited to only the one device. For example, if you have a photographic image that you immediately convert to CMYK, and you later want to put this same image on the Web, you will likely have problems because in the conversion to CMYK the gamut has been severely clipped, and there is no way to restore the color space that has been lost.

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