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RGB or CMYK - What Color Format to Choose?

Updated on December 13, 2013
Red Green Blue Mix
Red Green Blue Mix

Information on what color mode to choose


RGB stands for Red Green Blue. These are the primary colors of the digital world. It is the format computers represent any color. Monitors cannot display all colors instead it displays a combination of Red, Green, and Blue. Get a camera, turn on macro then take a close-up of your monitor. You will see that it is made up of small dots in groups of threes and either is colored red, green, or blue with varying lightness. The RGB color space is used when you are making a digital image for electronic purposes – that means you won’t print it. Monitors use this format. So if you are just editing a photo for web use or just making a desktop wall paper, use RGB.

CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow and Key. These are the primary colors of the printed world. It is the format Printers use. Printers only have three colors of ink. That is Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. Key means black or white. Color in print is represented by these four values. So, if you are making an illustration or editing a picture for printing purposes you should use CMYK mode.

There is no bad effect when you use CMYK for the web or RGB for print. However, the colors will be displayed more accurately in Photoshop or GIMP or whatever program you are using. Try loading an illustration that shows many colors in your editing program then try changing modes. You will see that there is a slight difference in the display of colors.

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    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

      Useful information . This was unknown to me. Thanks.