Design for better printing: Global color / merging swatches

Posted on Jul 11, 2017 in Design, News
Design for better printing: Global color / merging swatches

When working with large format printing, there are a number of design considerations that can make your project easier, and create a much better looking result. This is the sixth in a series of posts that will explore some of these considerations from an expert perspective. We hope these posts will help you gain an understanding of ways to make your future trade show booth even more eye-catching.

In previous posts in this series we covered a number of different ways to define your colors in Illustrator and InDesign. Considering the many ways colors can be built, the processes they will be used in, and the number of brand colors you may have, your colors will likely need to be tweaked at some point during or after the design phase.

An easy way to do this is to use ‘global color,’ which allows you to quickly adjust your color swatches throughout the entire document. With Adobe InDesign, all swatches are global by default. In Adobe Illustrator, you need to check the box for global color when creating the swatch. Once that global swatch has been applied to a piece of artwork, modifying it in the ‘swatches’ palette will update the color anywhere it was used in the file. This makes it very easy to recolor your entire piece.

Illustrator Tip: Each time you begin a new project in Illustrator, it can be helpful to set up global swatches for all brand colors you may use in that document, along with rich black. This ensures that all critical colors are easily available and will be 100% consistent throughout the document.

InDesign Tip: If you use InDesign to combine assets from different sources, it’s common to end up with a number of different global swatches. Though they should be the same value, they may have been built differently (i.e., a CMYK swatch with decimal values, CMYK with rounded values, RGB, and book color). The software will treat these different values as completely different colors. However, it’s easy to combine these into a single swatch. Simply select all swatches you’d like to combine, right click one of them, and select “Merge Swatches.” Once all swatches for a single color are merged, you can create the proper settings for every instance of that color within your file.

When you need professional assistance to ensure your colors come out just right, give us a call, or contact us at

We’re with you, every step of the way!

Team Nichols