Standards and Specificiations

Like in other fields where handcraft became  industrial production standards are more and more important, even if people are not aware of it in their daily production.
The color settings and the PDF Export in the Adobe Creative Suite is an implementation of standards for the print production. The standard settings for PDF-preflight in Acrobat or Pitstop referes to standards and also the color settings in several solutions for digital contract proofing.

The most import standards for the print production are:

  • ¬†ISO 12647-X describing color results for printing on different types of machines and papers
  • ISO 15930-X (PDF/X) for data exchange in the print production
  • ISO 15076 for the ICC color profile format
  • ISO 12640 for the data format from which ICC profiles are calculated

All these standards are prepared by national organizations and later discussed and agreed on in international comittees from the International standards organization ISO. The ISO comittee TC 130 is responsible for all the standards concerning the print production.

Specifications are mostly guidelines for how to implement standards in the daily production. They refer to standards but also to characterization-data, ICC-profiles, PDF preflight criteria , control strips for the quality control of digital proofs or calibration targets for the print process.

The best known specifications for the standardized print production are:

1) PSO Process Standard Offsetprinting developed by FOGRA / bvdm / ECI

This is a very clean implementation of ISO 12647-2. Since 2004 it has been the world wide leader, concerning vendor independent standardization and verification of digital proofing. Almost all digital proofing solutions for the European market are pre-configured with PSO compatible settings and the UGRA FOGRA Mediawedge for verification.
ICC-profiles for the whole range of offset printing are available in Adobe Creative Suite 3 and from ECI.
The MediaStandard Print 2006 serves as a free available guideline. Please note that the 2006 edition does does not include the change to FOGRA39 / ISOcoated_v2 for offset print production on coated paper.
PDF/X-Ready is a Swiss initiative for PDF/X creation and pre-flighting conforming to PSO / Media Standard Print.
ISO 12647-2 and PSO are failing actually for target values concerning weboffset printing on white LWC papers.
Graybalance target values in PSO are based on characterization-data used for the contract proof. A control wedge for visual judging the gray balance of printing according PSO is the ECI/bvdm GrayCon. This is done by comparing K- and CMY-patches with similar gray side by side. At the end of 2008 PSO does not contain procedures and tolerances for hudging grayblance by measurement.

PSO is not only a a specification but includes also the possibility of a certification for pre-press and printing. Every month, several new companies are certified. A comprehensive overview in English about the PSO concept and certification incl. a database of all certified companies can be found at

2) G7 / GRACoL / SWOP developed by IDEAlliance

This solution takes parts from the ISO 12647-2 and uses an alternative concept for the calibration of printing processes. Gray balance has a higher priority in calibration and during the press as the PSO concept.
Characterization-data and profiles are in the beginning of Dec. 2007 still working data, but should be soon released as final versions.
Adobe Creative Suite includes no profiles in Dec. 2007. Tools for vendor independent standardization and verification of digital proofs are introduced to the market in Dec. 2007. Most proofing solutions for the US market have right settings out of the box. There are actual no characterization-data for sheetfeed printing on uncoated paper.

3) System Brunner from the company with the same name

System Brunner was historicly an altenative standardization concept for the complete print production. It has a very strong focus on graybalance (in combination with TVI and Solids) for controllimg the press run.
Today it can be combined with PSO or G7, SWOP, GRACoL. But it also contains characterization-data and profiles for coated paper and white LWC paper in wenoffset printing for a complete in-house workflow. DuPont has been using the System Brunner EuroStandard for years as an internal reference for proofing.

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