Designing reports graphica that can be printed b/w or photcopied
April 19, 2014 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Is there an online tool, or function in Word, to see what a design would look like when printed in black and white, or how it might turn out when photocopied?

My google-fu is failing me.
I am working on a report to be distributed to a number of important clients. The report is based around several key graphics, all with supporting pages with their own graphics. There has been a strong use of color throughout the report to differentiate key concepts and conclusions.
Are there any guides on how to design graphics so that it looks good if someone prints in black or white, or if it is photocopied? Or is there a simulator that can show me how it will look?
posted by troytroy to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Change your monitor to grayscale temporarily?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:12 PM on April 19, 2014

If the graphics are in picture format, you can go to the picture toolbar and change the color to grayscale there.
posted by xingcat at 12:14 PM on April 19, 2014

It's really difficult to properly predict, given the disparity in copier/printer optics, software, etc. etc. The basic rule of thumb is that reds will tend to go dark and light blues will tend to go white, with all manner of gray tones in-between.

You could output the pages with graphics to an image format and open them in something like Photoshop and convert to grayscale. It's not going to be 100% accurate (again, because of the differences in copiers and printers) but it will give you an idea.

All that said, it's a pretty rare office copier or printer that only does b/w these days. Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:21 PM on April 19, 2014

If you want something to look good in black and white, you need to design it in black and white to begin with. Period. Anything with "Strong use of color" is likely to be a disaster, not least because you can't really predict how it'll look on a specific printer/copier when converted.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:32 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is there a reason why you can't print it in black and white or grayscale right now? You can then put those in a photocopier to see how that turns out. This is called "proofing."
posted by rhizome at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yup, what Tomorrowful said. Keep in mind that photocopiers in particular don't do halftones well.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 1:56 PM on April 19, 2014

Printing in black and white is a totally different thing than photocopying. Photocopying pretty much ruins anything but the most basic line drawings. I would definitely start by designing or converting things into black and white. And if at all possible, don't photocopy. At most big offices the photocopier is networked so you can actually print to it (fastest for high volumes). And if you need to print high volumes at FedEx Office, you can use their Print Online system (or just email it to them).
posted by radioamy at 5:47 PM on April 19, 2014

Photocopying in b/w "compresses" the scale, that is, it makes the lighter tones lighter and the darker tones darker. There are several different types of photocopiers, scanners and printers - all of them idiosynchratic.

"The report is based around several key graphics, all with supporting pages with their own graphics. There has been a strong use of color throughout the report to differentiate key concepts and conclusions."

I highly recommend that you print everything using the same printer [The terms have become somewhat interchangeable]. The answer to the question of "how it might turn out when photocopied" is worse.

I've made somewhere in the neighborhood of 32,000,000 copies.
posted by vapidave at 12:29 AM on April 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the helpful guidance! I don't have access to a printer (or, I have access but the hassle and time getting it test printed is significant) before handing in the next version of the report, so was hoping to be able to do as much as possible without one. I did follow suggestions and grey scaled everything to see how it might turn out.
We will be printing copies in color for all of our clients. However, as we are also emailing pdfs to people, and I wanted to make sure that they could print in black and white.
Thanks again everyone.
posted by troytroy at 4:20 AM on April 20, 2014

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