Color-managing documents for online viewing

Color management for online viewing is very different from color management for printed media. With printed media, you have far more control over the appearance of the final document. With online media, your document will appear on a wide range of possibly uncalibrated monitors and video display systems, significantly limiting your control over color consistency.

When you color-manage documents that will be viewed exclusively on the web, Adobe recommends that you use the sRGB color space. sRGB is the default working space for most Adobe color settings, but you can verify that sRGB is selected in the Color Settings dialog box (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) or the Color Management preferences (Acrobat). With the working space set to sRGB, any RGB graphics you create will use sRGB as the color space.

When working with images that have an embedded color profile other than sRGB, you should convert the image’s colors to sRGB before you save the image for use on the web. If you want the application to automatically convert the colors to sRGB when you open the image, select Convert To Working Space as the RGB color management policy. (Make sure that your RGB working space is set to sRGB.) In Photoshop and InDesign, you can also manually convert the colors to sRGB using the Edit > Convert To Profile command.


In InDesign, the Convert To Profile command only converts colors for native, not placed, objects in the document.

Color-managing PDFs for online viewing

When you export PDFs, you can choose to embed profiles. PDFs with embedded profiles reproduce color consistently in Acrobat 4.0 or later running under a properly configured color management system.

Keep in mind that embedding color profiles increases the size of PDFs. RGB profiles are usually small (around 3 KB); however, CMYK profiles can range from 0.5 to 2 MB.

Color-managing HTML documents for online viewing

Many web browsers do not support color management. Of the browsers that do support color management, not all instances can be considered color-managed because they may be running on systems where the monitors are not calibrated. In addition, few web pages contain images with embedded profiles. If you manage a highly controlled environment, such as the intranet of a design studio, you may be able to achieve some degree of HTML color management for images by equipping everyone with a browser that supports color management and calibrating all monitors.

You can approximate how colors will look on uncalibrated monitors by using the sRGB color space. However, because color reproduction varies among uncalibrated monitors, you still won’t be able to anticipate the true range of potential display variations.

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