Jump to content

Wandering Grayscale in Publisher V2?

Recommended Posts


I’m trying to prepare a file on Publisher for Ingram Spark and something bizarre is happening with the color space.

I create a document in Grayscale (text colour set to Gray 0), yet when I try to export, the Preflight checker objects and says that the “document color profile is not suitable for PDF/X”.

Now, Ingram absolutely requires their book text in Grayscale, and exported as PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002 (apparently PDF/X-1a:2003 or PDF/X-3:2003 should also work), so I forge ahead and export it as a PDF/X anyway.

However, when I reopen the PDF as Grayscale in Affinity, the book text is now Gray 5. When I reopen it without specifying to open as Grayscale, it opens as CMYK, and the black of the body text is all over the shop! C72, M67,Y67, K86.

So what is going on?

Please note I’ve had to learn this software rather swiftly and haphazardly, with no prior knowledge of anything digital/graphics related. I work in ink and dip pen, usually, so pardon any obvious idiocy I’m committing here.

On Ingram’s very helpful File Creation Guide, they note:

“SPOT COLORS/ICC PROFILES: Please do not include Spot colors or ICC profiles in your file as these can produce unexpected results during processing. ICC profiles applied to 100% black text often convert to a shade or percentage of gray (less than 100% black). This will result in text in your proof that is not solid black. If text is intended to appear as solid black, including Spot colors or ICC profiles can cause delays in receiving a correct proof.”

So this could be the problem. But in the export settings, the option to set the colour space or ICC profile is blank, and the box for “Embed ICC profile” is already ticked and grayed out, so I can’t alter it. I bodged up a quick file to show as an example, here:


My text very much needs to be 100% solid black, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

I've searched the forum for anything Ingram Spark related, and have found some very helpful threads, but nothing dealing with this issue, yet.

It might be a bug?

I also have a related question about this bit of their specifications:

“Resolution: 600 ppi for 1-bit black & white line art / 300 ppi for 8-bit grayscale continuous tone images”

Color Space: Grayscale

LPI (lines per inch): 175 visual (Where do I set this?)

Preferred file format: PDF (.pdf)

PDF producer: PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002”

I presume by ppi they mean DPI also, so for a book containing both text AND black ink drawings, do I set the document up at 600 DPI?? And then untick the “Downsample images” box during export?

Sorry for so much floundering!

Cheers for any help!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Old Bruce,

I wish I could! But Ingram has rather pedantic requirements for their POD service:

(found here in this helpful file creation guide)


I just don’t understand why a document created in Grayscale, exported in PDF/X, and reopened in Grayscale should shift the black from Gray 0 to Gray 5.

Or why the Preflight says: “Document colour profile not suitable for PDF/X”—Is this because PDF/X is only for CMYK, and Grayscale is RGB, like you said?

It’s very confusing!

Further, why does Ingram specify NOT to use ICC profiles, then specifically request a PDF/X file?

Because I looked up PDF/X and found an article that said:

“Core principles of PDF/X. An Output Intent must be present that uses an ICC profile to specify the intended printing conditions (print device type, paper type) when colors (or shades of gray) are defined.”

So which is it?

All advice appreciated!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is colour for the screen (RGB) and there is colour for printing (cmyk).

There are greyscales for the screen (RGB: 100% is white) and there are greyscales for printing (K: 100% is black).

Affinity doesn't differentiate greyscale into screen and print, my old Photoshop does.

So much in the early morning.  😉  The topic is discussed here at least once every week. There is a lot to read and learn.



This article has been written with the kind assistance of DeepL.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Valliard, and welcome to the forums.

This is really quite confusing. I'll try to explain the reasoning behind IngramSpark instructions.

a) Recommending PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002 basically means that they want a file that does not have live transparencies (e.g. objects or layers that have blend modes or opacity values). Whether these standards are actually required and checked (so that if requirements are not met files are rejected) is not clear, but I doubt it. Affinity apps cannot produce exact these standards, but instead PDF/X-1a:2003 and PDF/X-3:2003, but the differences are minor and irrelevant in context of the kind of production needed in your design. The instructions are basically created for someone working with e.g. InDesign. The workflow and production with Affinity apps is a bit different.

b) Mentioning "Grayscale" as color space refers to books that are going to be printed only by using black ink, so text needs to be pure black, and possible images in grayscale color space. You can achieve this in Affinity apps both when working in Grayscale/8 or CMYK/8 color space, but considering that they also mention PDF/X-1 or PDF/X-3 (which automatically flatten any transparencies in the design, and which are also the only automatic methods of flattening transparencies without total rasterization of PDF within Affinity apps), it is best to choose CMYK/8. [Using PDF/X-1 or PDF/X-3 based methods will convert all native colors to CMYK in Affinity apps, and Grayscale based color values, internally handled as RGB, would become four-color-black values.] 

c) Mentioning that ICC profiles should not be included basically means that all colors need to be resolved, and the output of the production PDF is DeviceCMYK or DeviceGray so that no embedded color profiles are needed to calculate the final gray levels. When you export using PDF/X-1a:2003 or PDF/X-3:2003 within Affinity apps, you will get that kind of a production file.

This means that you should:

1) Create a document using CMYK/8 color space. You can use the default U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 profile unless the printer recommends something else. Use 3 mm bleed on outer edges (but set Inner bleed to 0). 

2) Make sure that you define color for text by using CMYK color model (in the Color panel), so that values of C, M and Y inks are 0, and only the K ink has values (from 0 to 100%).

3) If you have images, they need to be in grayscale mode, or if in RGB mode, need to have K-Only button turned on so that the images are interpreted as grayscale images. Grayscale images automatically turn on "K-Only" mode when placed in the document.

4) Export using PDF/X-1a:2003 or PDF/X-3:2003. If you have facing pages layout, make sure that you export "All pages" rather than "All spreads". Remember to include bleeds. Note that when you make selections in the "More" options, the preset label "PDF/X-1a-2003", etc. will be deselected but just including e.g. bleeds does not mean that your export would not be based on the selected standard.

EDIT: There is one caveat when using PDF/X-based export methods within Affinity apps: if you intend to place PDF files in the document in the default "passthrough" mode, there is a risk that these files will be rasterized on export (in this case, it is safest to export using PDF/X-3:2003 and make sure that all placed PDFs are produced using PDF/X-3 based export method).


Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, lacerto said:

1) Create a document using CMYK/8 color space. You can use the default U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 profile unless the printer recommends something else.Use 3mm bleed on outer edges (but set Inner bleed to 0). 

Can you say a bit more about setting the inner bleed to 0? I would expect that to cause problems when exporting "All Pages" for a Facing Page document.

-- Walt

Desktop:  Windows 11 Home, version 22H2 (22621.1413) 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 
Laptop:  Windows 10 Home, version 21H2 (19044.2728) 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
        Affinity Photo 1.10.6 (.1665) and 2.1.0 and 2.1.0. beta/ Affinity Designer 1.10.6 (.1665)  and 2.1.0  and 2.1.0 beta / Affinity Publisher 1.10.6 (.1665)  and 2.1.0  and 2.1.0beta
iPad Pro M1, 12.9", iPadOS 16.4.1 (a), Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard

      Affinity Photo 1.10.7 and 2.1.0 and 2.1.0 beta/ Affinity Designer 1.10.7 and 2.1.0 and 2.1.0 beta/ Affinity Publisher 2.1.0 and 2.1.0 beta

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, lacerto said:

Hi Valliard, and welcome to the forums.

This is really quite confusing. I'll try to explain the reasoning behind IngramSpark instructions.



Dear lacerto,

This is astoundingly clear and helpful, thank you greatly!

It's late here in the antipodes, and I'm rather bleary-brained, so I shall re-read this in the morning most carefully and follow all instructions. Even at this dubious hour though, it makes perfect sense.

I may have further questions tomorrow, but after I've had a stab at implementing your suggestions in a clear and caffeinated light.

Appreciative regards,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, walt.farrell said:

Can you say a bit more about setting the inner bleed to 0? I would expect that to cause problems when exporting "All Pages" for a Facing Page document.

This was mentioned in the IngramSpark instructions (link above) both for b/w and color books on pages 8, 9, 10 and 11. Whether inner bleed can be there is much up to printer's preferred workflow in these kinds of jobs, but it seems that they are often so automated that if the bleed setting is not according to the specs, the job might actually get incorrectly positioned and printed. A facing pages layout itself does not need inner bleed because there will technically never be visual gap as a result of misregistration (because of the binding, or because the abutting page printed on the same sheet needs to be limited to exact page boundary on the binding side, so that nothing gets "bled" over the page edge. In jobs where pages are not bound side by side there naturally needs to be inner bleed setting, as well. Most often the printer's imposition software trims unnecessary inner bleed, if it is included, but IngramSpark specifically warns in the referred instructions that unnecessarily added inner bleed may result in wrongly positioned printout. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...

Important Information

Please note there is currently a delay in replying to some post. See pinned thread in the Questions forum. These are the Terms of Use you will be asked to agree to if you join the forum. | Privacy Policy | Guidelines | We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.