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A Checklist for Printing Photography in Newsprint

Winnie Au photography portfolio newspaper printed by Newspaper Club

Photography and newsprint can make a great team. The trick is knowing which images will work with the format – and which won’t. Our design guides and sample newspapers have lots of information about this, but we’ve rounded up some essential tips here as a friendly reminder.

Note that how photos look in print will be different depending on paper type and whether you’re printing digitally or traditionally, but the advice below is pretty universal:

  • Choose images with plenty of contrast

It's hard to get a true deep black in newspaper printing, and details in dark areas can merge together and look “flat" in print. At the other end of the spectrum, pale and subtle tones will lose some definition and can look washed out.

It can be a bit of a balancing act, but for best results choose photographs with a good range of midtones and enough contrast between important details to make sure they really stand out.

  • Check ink coverage for digital printing

In digital printing, colours with less than 20-30% ink coverage are likely to be very pale, or not visible at all in print. In general, we recommend keeping colours above 30%. The colour wheel in our sample newspaper is handy here – use it as a reference when adjusting colours.

You can also check your ink coverage in Acrobat Pro, using the Output Preview dialog box.

  • Consider your layout

Newsprint is thin and your images are likely to show through the paper. Design with this in mind, and be careful with dark photos backing onto pale photos. (Or not – we've seen some really interesting experiments that play with show-through.)

Folding and alignment aren't exact – something to consider when designing double page spreads that go across two separate sheets.

Also remember that digital tabloids and digital broadsheets come endorse folded (folded horizontally across the page) and be mindful of how this might affect your layout.

  • Remember that colours look different in newsprint than they do on a screen

This is a big one! Newspaper printing is a fast, industrial process designed for speed and economy – not colour reproduction. That means newspaper presses are working with a limited range of colours, especially compared to a screen.

It’s important to expect some variation between your file and your newspaper. We love photographer Tom Oldham's take: "People don't expect perfection in a newspaper. It's not forever, so go with your gut and enjoy a format that is very forgiving."

More resources

If you have any concerns, you can always write to us at and we’re happy to help.

Photo at the top of this post shows traditional tabloid Wander Over With by photographer Winnie Au. Image via No Plastic Sleeves.

This concludes Photography Week at Newspaper Club. If you're ready to get your work into newsprint, order some free samples to get started.

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