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black & white without any colour trace

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Hope someone can help me. I am using Affinity Publisher, 1.9.3 on a macbook Pro 2017. 

I am new to AFPub.

I’m finalizing a book of 144 pages, every page having at least one illustration (mostly photo’s). The book is a mix of b/w (48) and colour (96) pages.  


The text is originally a Word document, copied and placed in the AFPub file. 

The b/w pictures are colour pictures, converted in Lightroom Classic to b/w high contrast.


At my printing shop, a b/w page is cheaper than a color page, and I try to avoid paying the color rate for a b/w page. The price difference per book is not dramatic, but if you order 100-odd books, it is starting to hurt. And I am Dutch . 


Also, there is the technical challenge of which AFPub settings would prevent b/w content to be treated as color. If any……


Whatever the settings, at the printer my 144 pages are seen as colour – including the 48 pages meant as b/w. 


This same problem was discussed in a thread in 2018, but the discussion ended without a clear outcome, alas. 


As I see it, my document settings, or my pdf settings are such, that the colour black of the text and the illustrations is not seen as true black. One should, therefor, try to convert text and b/w illustrations to (Y-M-C-0) K-100. By hand, I have adapted text and all b/w illustrations to these values. To lock colourspace or keep it unlocked does’nt seem to make a difference.


In order to test how things were processed at the printer I prepared a small document of six pages with text, and two pages with an b/w illustration added. 

When applying the following settings at least the text-only pages were seen as b/w:

Document setup: CMYK/8

General CMYK profile

Colourspace locked to [C-M-Y-0]/K-100

Pdf preset pdf/x-3-2003 (printer recommends pdf/x-3-2002)

No colour conversion

No overprint.


I explored a bit more. In Photoshop, I converted 2 colour pictures into greyscale, and replaced the existing pictures with those greyscale pictures. The printer software reported back: four b/w, two colour. 


I am completely at loss. Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestion or advice.



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Thanks, Lagarto, for looking into this. 

The "test" pdf is attached.

I used the CMYK sliders indeed, both for text as for the illustrations. 

The grayscale images were converted in Adobe PS, I am not sure whether that is conversion to monochrome.

Sorry for reporting back so late, I am used to a hint by email that someone had reacted to a post.

test eigen tekst afpub14.pdf

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37 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

The test file does not show this problem, so the black of the text is K100. Can you post any of the files (or just one page of one of these files) that printer said that black was in CMYK?

The problem here is I don't know what the printer said, because I get a return not from the printer (person), but from the printer's software stating: x pages, y pages colour. Whether the colour is YMCK or RGB, is not visible. 


20 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

I am not using that feature myself, but I suppose this happens if you click on the "Follow topic" slider at the bottom of the message box when you create or edit your post.

Seems the mails came with a delay, I did nothing but received notifications of all your replies a couple of minutes ago.

25 minutes ago, Lagarto said:

Note that if you have grayscale images, there is no need to assign any fill color to them using the sliders so the "fill" should basically be "None" for all such images. It is possible to assign a fill color to grayscale images, but that would apply a tint for the image (and if that tint were e.g. an RGB black the whole image would be converted to four color back).

The quote is your reply to my statement that I used the YMCK sliders.

Let me explain: the sliders I used in the 144-page document, the test whether greyscale would make a difference was a different test-document of 6 pages (I have attached that particular document to my earlier reply). I did not test the greyscale solution for the 144-p document (the book). As far as the separate test-document is concerned, I got a return from the printer's software saying 6 pages total, 1 page colour. 

I don't know how to single out a series of pages in a pdf doc, so I have attached the full 144-page document. Sorry for that. Pity you don't read dutch, there are a few nice stories in the book 🙂 thanks again for looking into this.  May take some time (half a day or so) before I could be back on this forum, running off to a meeting (live!) now, some 20 miles from my home/office. 

versie 16 juni final4.pdf

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Wow! You've almost written a book about this frustrating process of rendering colour pictures into the black and white mode that would be accepted as b/w by the printer (machine, software, people, what have you....). Thank you so much, Lagarto, I have to read your advices (plural!) carefully and see what to do next. I certainly will try to solve this, it is a true challenge now. 

In the end, it could well be that I have to accept that the full document will be read by the printer as colour, and that I would have to pay the higher price. It very much depends on the workload implied. To be honest, in that case (i.e. accepting that the hurdle is too high), I will have a look again at the (intended) b/w pictures, and may be I'll turn some b/w's back to colour again. Each disadvantage has its advantage, as the famous Johan Cruyff said.  

I am very grateful that you took the time to dive into this particular problem, and apparently also went through the whole document, unearthing other flaws. 

A few observations: I never thought of the page numbers or image borders. Booby traps! Second point: I checked, and it is true that four color black pops up in too many pages. What I see when checking in Affinity is that the page is K100, but titles, and some introductions or conclusions are, while hidden behind the K100 main text, actually four colour black. 

I keep you posted about what I have done.



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On 6/21/2021 at 4:58 AM, willemw said:

At my printing shop, a b/w page is cheaper than a color page, and I try to avoid paying the color rate for a b/w page. The price difference per book is not dramatic, but if you order 100-odd books, it is starting to hurt. And I am Dutch . 

Just a note to add to your confusion. Back in the previous millennium I worked on a Newspaper and we would occasionally have some advertising where the client was willing to pay the cost for four colour process printing for their half page ad. What that meant was we could then use the four colour printing on not just that page but all of that actual flat's pages. The four colour flat would be run (printed) on the four colour press and the rest of the paper would be run on the one colour press. the pages would then be collated and folded and trimmed.

While we wound up with four pages which could use full colour we couldn't just choose any four pages arbitrarily, they were determined by the imposition of the pages. And that in turn was determined by how many pages we were producing.

Look up Signatures, Imposition, 2 up, 4 up, 8 up etc in DuckDuckGo. It is both simpler and much more confusing than this post. Your printing company should be able to give you a list of pages which could be full colour for an n page publication and the rest of the pages would be b/w. Some printing presses are more flexible regarding where the colour flats can be placed in the signatures.

Best of luck.

Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 11.7.6 
Affinity Designer 2.1.0 | Affinity Photo 2.1.0 | Affinity Publisher 2.1.0 | Beta versions as they appear.

I have never mastered color management, period, so I cannot help with that.

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