WEB PRINTING SPECS — SWOP for the New Millennium

These two groups have met regularly to monitor current issues in the industry, to update the specifications and to reaffirm the mission of continual improvement in the quality of publication printing. Over the years this work has reflected SWOP’s commitment to adapting to the latest techniques and technology.

The specifications, first designated SWOP in 1976, addressed fundamental color reproduction principles that had been discovered in previous decades of printing technology development. This included substrate, inks (hue and density), tone reproduction (or dot gain, as it came to be characterized in halftone printing), gray balance, screening, trapping and many other parameters that need definition and control for consistent color reproduction.

The founders of SWOP wisely recognized that the specifications needed to be clear, reasonable targets achievable by a broad and developing industry, rather than a narrow window limited to an elite market. They also realized the importance of having each segment in the production chain take responsibility for supporting and adhering to the specifications.

Matching Color On-press
The result was a uniquely cooperative effort that benefited everyone in the publication industry. The problems of color matching on-press, once chaotic, continually improved and eventually the creative segment of the industry could count on their work being reproduced faithfully.

It is important to note that SWOP does not profess to be a standard in the formal sense of the word. It is a specification that, in describing procedures and parameters, refers to accredited standards that formally document the accepted way to accomplish reliable communication in open environments.

SWOP is careful to avoid policies that hinder internal operations of, or cooperative participation by, any of the enterprises in the graphic arts chain. While SWOP’s mission has been targeted at the magazine industry, its principles have benefited a much broader printing industry. Surveys have shown that it has become a recognized guide synonymous with basic color reproduction to some, but to others it is quite misunderstood, though often quoted.

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