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SWOP: Specification for Web Offset Publications

The history of print specifications in the U.S. began in 1975, when a group of industry leaders from printing, prepress, advertising and publishing gathered to address the problem of inconsistent color reproduction in publications. They assembled a set of best practices that were to become the specifications for web offset publication, or SWOP. These became guidelines across the industry for the preparation of print ready materials, selection of inks, protocols for proofing and parameters for printing. SWOPs efforts are credited with stabilizing color reproduction across an industry where image quality was critical. The basic concepts of SWOP were acknowledged by many other segments of the printing industry to the point where it became a widely emulated, though often misunderstood, brand. While the SWOP committee worked as an independent entity in the early days, SWOP joined with Idealliance in 2005.

SWOP is best known for developing scientific techniques to match color from proof to press, not only for publication (web offset) printing, but for sheetfed offset lithography and other types of printing as well. When SWOP merged with Idealliance in 2005, plans were set to aggressively modernize the SWOP specifications to meet new demands of the industry for improving proofing quality and the proof to press match. Today the Idealliance SWOP committee continues to serve the industry by certifying proofing equipment to strict color reproduction standards.


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